What is a Physiatrist?

Physiatrists, or rehabilitation physicians, are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move

Rehabilitation physicians are medical doctors who have completed training in the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Specifically, rehabilitation physicians:

  • Diagnose and treat pain
  • Restore maximum function lost through injury, illness or disabling conditions
  • Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
  • Lead a team of medical professionals
  • Provide non-surgical treatments
  • Explain your medical problems and treatment/prevention plan

The job of a rehabilitation physician is to treat any disability resulting from disease or injury, from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. The focus is on the development of a comprehensive program for putting the pieces of a person's life back together after injury or disease – without surgery.

Rehabilitation physicians take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of an ailment. They then design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. This medical team might include other physicians and health professionals, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, rehabilitation physicians help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime.

To find a rehabilitation physician in your area, search the Find a PM&R Physician database.

|back to top|​​​​​

Rehabilitation Physicians May Treat:




Rheumatoid Arthritis

Back Pain

Brain Injuries

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Geriatric Rehabilitation

Neck Pain

Nerve Pain


Ulnar Neuropathy (Wrist Pain in Bicyclists)


Pediatric Rehabilitation

Post-Polio Syndrome

Spinal Cord Injuries

Sports-Related Injuries


Women’s Conditions

Female Athlete Triad

Pelvic Pain

Pregnancy and Back Pain

Work-Related Injuries

To learn more about the types of PM&R treatments available for these conditions, click HERE.