What Conditions Do Physiatrists Treat

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The Medical Student's Guide to PM&R

Physiatrists primarily treat conditions of the bones, muscles, joints, and central/peripheral nervous system that affect a person's ability to function.

A physiatrist is trained to manage a variety of disorders/diseases but practitioners often will specialize. Because of the broad spectrum of conditions treated and the comprehensive nature of their training, physiatrists are uniquely positioned to adapt to and design new technologies, as well as changing trends in health care.

Areas of focus include:


  • Examples: Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Guillain-Barré, Myasthenia Gravis, Parkinson’s Disease

Pain medicine:

  • Examples: Chronic Pain Management, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Back Pain, Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Musculoskeletal care:

  • Examples: Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Myopathies, Fibromyalgia, Spondyloarthropathies, Back Pain and Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Sports injuries:

  • Examples: Achilles Tendonitis, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Turf Toe, Medial & Lateral Epicondylitis, DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis, Rotator Cuff Pathology, Acromioclavicular Separation, Biceps Tendonitis, Stress Fractures, Concussion

Post-operative care:

  • Examples: Joint Replacement, Organ Transplantation, Amputations, Left-Ventricular Assistive Devices, Cardiac / Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pediatric functional and developmental disorders:

  • Examples: Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome

Prosthetics and Orthotics:

  • Examples: Gait and Movement Disorders, Assistive Devices and Ambulation Aids, Spinal Orthoses, Neuro-prostheses

Specialized rehabilitation:

  • Examples: Fine Arts (music, dance, vocal), Cancer, Cardiac, Burns, Pulmonary, Family Training (for home care), Pelvic Pain, Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Palliative Care