Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation Practice Area



The vision for the specialty offers exciting new opportunities for physiatry and will be realized in different ways across the field's diverse practice settings. To help move the vision forward, AAPM&R has enlisted the assistance of member physiatrists to develop envisioned futures for practice areas addressing this key question:

How will practices look different in the future when aligned with this vision?

In Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation, member physiatrists developed the following envisioned future based on the input from other physiatrists:

In the Future ... Physiatrists are recognized as the preferred providers for pain management and spine rehabilitation care.

Timely physiatric assessment and management, when utilized early in the care continuum, may effectively treat acute pain and injury, and reduce the severity and chronicity of pain-related conditions. Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation physiatrists develop, direct, and administer comprehensive multi- and interdisciplinary rehabilitation programs based on a patient-centered biopsychosocial model of care. They help people manage acute and chronic disabling pain conditions, with the emphasis on maximizing physical and psychosocial function, and quality of life.

Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation physiatrists are able to provide breadth and depth of clinical care in this field.  Their expertise includes pharmacologic management, prescribing restorative therapies, injection therapies, and minimally invasive procedures. Physiatrists help to coordinate behavioral health, patient education, and complementary and integrative therapies. Physiatrists bring unique skills to pain management including their ability to diagnose underlying pain conditions and manage patients over their continuum of care, adapting treatment plans as necessary.

Physiatrists are good financial stewards in the value-based healthcare system, resulting in decreased health-related costs for patients with pain and spine care needs. Both primary care providers and specialists refer patients with a spectrum of pain conditions and spinal related disorders to Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation physiatrists.

Physiatric care incorporates best evidence and emerging technologies. Pain Management and Spine physiatrists demonstrate the value of physiatric-led multi- and interdisciplinary care teams through patient-reported and functional outcomes data, and comparative effectiveness research. Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation physiatrists are seen as the optimal “go to” providers early and throughout the continuum of care, and are uniquely equipped to provide the most optimal, safe and efficient patient-centered care.


How will the Academy be prioritizing and supporting this?

  • Detail models of Pain Management and Spine Rehabilitation (PSR).
  • Educate external stakeholders on the expertise of PSR physiatrists.
  • Set a standard for training (in residency, fellowship and in practice) that will advance the knowledge and skills of physiatrists to meet the needs of future pain management and spine rehabilitation models.