What Is a Physiatrist?

Physiatrists are physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, including the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and pain syndromes, electrodiagnostic medicine, and rehabilitation of patients with severe impairments. These conditions may include sports and/or work injuries, as well as degenerative conditions such as arthritis or lower back pain.

The physiatrist directs a comprehensive rehabilitation team of professionals that may include:

  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Rehabilitation nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Others

About Our Physiatrists

Physiatrists at Lahey’s Spine Center fit into one of two categories:

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

As with MDs, DOs educated in the United States are fully licensed physicians and surgeons who practice the full scope of medicine. Both MDs and DOs complete similar education and training (e.g., medical school, residencies, licensure exams). The main difference is that DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, joints and muscles. DOs apply the philosophy of treating the whole person with respect to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness. They treat the disease and injury using conventional medical practice (e.g., medication and surgery), along with manual therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM.

Our physiatrists also have sub-specialty training in pain medicine. Pain medicine physicians diagnose and treat a myriad of painful conditions using a variety of narcotic and non-narcotic medications, injections, interventional procedures, behavioral medicine approaches, physical medicine approaches, and alternative medicine techniques.

Physiatry Services at Lahey

The goal of the physiatrist’s team is to improve overall function of the patient. The following non-surgical management techniques may be used in the diagnosis and treatment of spine conditions:

  • Treatment with narcotic and non-narcotic pain medicine
  • Spinal injections, including fluoroscopically guided cervical and lumbar epidural steroid injections and diagnostic medial branch blocks, intra-articular facet blocks
  • Sympathetic blocks, including stellate ganglion and lumbar sympathetic plexus
  • Radiofrequency ablation of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine
  • Placement and management of neuro-modulatory techniques, including spinal cord and peripheral nerve stimulation systems
  • Osteopathic manipulative medicine
  • Trigger point injection therapy
  • Fluoroscopically guided sacroiliac injections
  • Occipital nerve blocks

Anesthesia Guidelines

Regional Anesthesia in the Patient Receiving Antithrombotic or Thrombolytic Therapy: American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine Evidence-Based Guidelines (Third Edition)