HOME / Treatments / Pain Management / Physiatry

Physiatry and Rehabilitation Medicine in New Jersey

Physiatrist and patient reviewing spinal X-rays

Physiatry, also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), is the branch of medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disabling diseases and injuries through physical means. A physiatrist can treat conditions such as chronic back pain, arthritis, or sports injuries. They can help patients regain function after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Based in northern New Jersey and serving patients throughout the area, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) has a team of physiatrists who work in close collaboration with neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and other medical professionals. Patients benefit from a comprehensive set of medical services for brain, spine, and back conditions that include rehabilitation medicine and pain management.

What Is a Physiatrist?

Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatrists collaborate with other medical professionals such as physical therapists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic surgeons. They focus on providing nonsurgical care for patients affected by a wide range of conditions. These conditions include diseases of the:

  • Spinal cord
  • Brain
  • Nerves
  • Joints
  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons

Like other doctors, physiatrists must complete extensive training and preparation to practice medicine. After completing their undergraduate education and medical school, they gain hands-on experience through residency training. Some physiatrists also complete a fellowship program after their residency to gain additional skills in a subspecialty. Board certification for physiatrists is administered by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Physiatrists have expertise in pain management, as well as rehabilitation and physical medicine. Physical therapists and physiatrists often work together to provide patient care. Unlike physiatrists, however, a physical therapist cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe medications. A physiatrist may refer a patient for physical therapy as part of the modalities treatment plan.

What Conditions Can a Physiatrist Treat?

Physiatrists can treat a wide range of conditions that affect the back, neck, brain, and spine. These include:

Often, physiatrists work with patients who have musculoskeletal or neurologic conditions or injuries. The goal is to restore normal function and range of motion through nonsurgical methods. For patients who have undergone surgery, working with a physiatrist can decrease postoperative pain and help them get back to their normal routines and activities faster.

What to Expect When Seeing a Physiatrist

A patient may see a physiatrist before or after surgery, or after experiencing an injury or illness that limits their physical function. An appointment with a physiatrist will include a complete review of the patient’s medical history. The physiatrist will ask about any symptoms the patient is experiencing, how the condition affects their daily life, and document any medications the patient is taking.

The provider will then conduct a physical examination to assess the area where the patient is experiencing pain. They may conduct additional diagnostic testing, including lab work and imaging (such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI). Physiatrists also use advanced diagnostic tools such as electromyography, which records muscle tissue activity. Based on their findings, the physiatrist will develop a treatment plan.

Patients should come prepared with questions they have about their condition and treatment plan, such as:

  • Is surgery recommended for this condition?
  • What conservative treatmentscan help manage this condition?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that can help mitigate the symptoms of this condition?
  • Does the physiatrist use opiate-free pain management techniques?

What Kind of Diagnostic Testing and Treatments Can a Physiatrist Provide?

Physiatrists often work as part of a multidisciplinary team. At CNSO, the neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, interventional pain management physicians, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists consult with a physiatrist to provide a holistic approach to care. Physiatrists may provide or prescribe treatments such as:

  • Electromyography (EMG):Diagnostic testing to determine any intrinsic muscle pathology.
  • Nerve Conduction Velocity Testing (NCV):Diagnostic testing isolates any peripheral nerve dysfunction.
  • Epidural steroid injection:These injection treatments deliver small doses of steroid medication to reduce pain caused by an inflamed or pinched nerve.
  • Trigger point injections:This type of injection uses anesthetic medication to relax muscle spasms.
  • Joint Injections: Perform steroidal injections into a shoulder, hip, or knee joint to reduce any swelling that causes the patient pain.
  • Physical therapy:Modalities used in physical therapy may include electrical stimulation, myofascial release, hot and cold therapy, and massage.
  • Medial branch block and RFA:This uses an injection treatment and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to block pain signals from a spinal nerve.

CNSO takes a conservative approach to pain management and treatment throughout a patient’s journey, recommending surgery only if necessary. The medical team takes the time to educate patients about their condition or injury and thoroughly explain treatment options, covering the benefits and any potential risks or side effects. In some cases, proactive treatment and pain management can eliminate the need for surgical intervention.

Why Choose CNSO for Physiatry and Rehabilitation Medicine?

Recognized as a National Spine Center of Excellence, CNSO offers expert, compassionate care. Led by a team of award-winning physiatrists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists, and physical therapists, the medical staff at CNSO works collaboratively to ensure each patient receives personalized care. With onsite diagnostic, imaging, rehabilitation, and surgical services, patients receive comprehensive care from one convenient location.

CNSO has multiple sites throughout northern New Jersey, with locations in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic counties. Plus, CNSO has medical providers who are fluent in Spanish, Korean, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Mandarin Chinese in addition to English. Patients can communicate with a provider in their native language, helping them feel more comfortable.

Find Trusted, Compassionate Physiatry Services at CNSO

Patients at CNSO will find comprehensive pain management services for back, spine, and brain conditions. Serving patients throughout northern New Jersey and the surrounding areas, CNSO provides a coordinated approach to patient care, with board-certified neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, interventional pain management physicians, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists working together. Physiatrists play a key role in improving patient quality of life by decreasing pain and improving function. To learn more about CNSO’s services or to schedule an appointment with a physiatrist, contact CNSO today.


CNSO Conditions for Spine and Brain Surgery

Our Medical Staff

In order to provide an accurate diagnosis with the most effective treatment option for “back problems” and brain tumors, CNSO is led by neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons. Under the care of our award-winning neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons, Northern NJ patients can have the confidence that their medical condition will be handled with consideration for their comfort and long-term well-being as well as technical excellence.

Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics