Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
A Lifetime of Activity: How PM&R Teaches Patients to Help Themselves
A physiatrist, or physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, specializes in the nonsurgical management of back and neck pain. While many doctors provide drugs to mask symptoms of pain, these drugs leave a patient debilitated and dependent upon them for pain relief. A physiatrist, on the other hand, provides techniques and treatments that enable back and neck pain sufferers to return to activity without surgery.
What is a physiatrist?
With so many subspecialties in medicine, it is no wonder that many people do not know exactly what a physiatrist does, even if they have heard the term. It has become a nationwide trend for highly respected spine centers to use physiatrists to treat cases of back and neck pain.
A physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) doctor may use a variety of tests to diagnose your back or neck pain. Physiatrists may also use spinal injections for pain relief and for diagnostic purposes.
So what does that mean for me?
Essentially, a physiatrist has unique skills to offer a back or neck pain sufferer. Instead of masking pain with drugs, a physiatrist identifies the cause of the pain. They often help patients relieve pain symptoms without surgery.
TriCities Spine in Bristol, TN is a by-product of discussions with case managers, rehab nurses and managed care experts on a local and national level who believe that spine care can be improved through a multidisciplinary team approach. TriCities Spine includes a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in spine, Dr. Jim Brasfield, teamed with a pain management specialist and spine-specialized physical therapy. TriCities Spine physicians already see a variety of complex cases from across Eastern Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. TriCities Spine emphasizes a nonsurgical approach to back pain, recognizing that in most cases spine surgery should be the last card to be played after nonsurgical options have been tried. About half of patients are referred to TriCities Spine by other doctors in the region. TriCities Spine also cares for those who injure themselves at the workplace. The strength of TriCities Spine lies in the medical expertise brought in by a variety of specialists who complement each other, including experts in physical medicine and neurosurgery. An internal pain specialist is often able to relieve some back and neck pain symptoms with special injections that enable a patient to bridge to therapy. Dr. Fred Terry specializes in pain relieving lumbar spinal injections and as well as myelograms, which may reveal the amount of damage in the spine. Therapists who specialize in spine use customized hands-on treatments to relieve pain symptoms, along with special exercises to help make the back stronger, more flexible and resistant to injury. If nonsurgical treatments are not successful, Dr. Jim Brasfield is trained and proficient in the latest techniques in minimally invasive spine surgery. Because of the minimally invasive techniques used by Dr. Brasfield, many patients are able to have their spine surgery and then return home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home.