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Physical Medicine

Physical therapists treat the consequences of disease or injury by addressing impairments, functional limitations, and/or disabilities in patients. Some of the more common conditions for which physical therapists examine and provide intervention and treatment include the following:

  • Orthopedic conditions, such as low back and neck pain, headaches, and osteoporosis.
  • Joint and soft-tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains, hand injuries, fractures and dislocations, and pre- and post-surgical conditions.
  • Some Neurological conditions, such as stroke (high-level), neuropathy and peripheral nerve injury.
  • Arthritic conditions, including: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Workplace injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cumulative trauma, and stress disorders.
  • Sports injuries, such as overuse injuries and trauma in recreational and professional athletes.

The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and disability by physical means such as manipulation, massage, and exercise, often with the aid of mechanical devices and with the application of heat, cold, electricity, radiation, or water/aqua therapy.

Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), also referred to as physiatry, is a medical specialty concerned with diagnosis, evaluation, and management of persons of all ages with physical and/or cognitive impairment and disability. This specialty involves diagnosis and treatment of patients with painful or functionally limiting conditions, the management of comorbidities and co-impairments, diagnostic and therapeutic injection procedures, electrodiagnostic medicine, and emphasis on prevention of complications of disability from secondary conditions.

Physiatrists are trained in the rehabilitation of neurologic disorders, and in the diagnosis and management of impairments of the musculoskeletal (including sports and occupational aspects) and other organ systems, and the long-term management of patients with disabling conditions. Physiatrists provide leadership to multidisciplinary teams concerned with maximal restoration or development of physical, psychological, social, occupational and vocational functions in persons whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorders or pain to enable people to achieve their maximum functional abilities.

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