What in the World is Physiatry? – Can it Help Fibromyalgia & Other Chronic Pain Sufferers?

What in the world is physiatry? Simply put, it is a specialized therapy that involves physical medicine and rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system. This is why fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic myofascial pain, and other chronic pain sufferers can benefit from this therapy. The focus of physiatry is on restoring function to patients.

Physiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat acute and chronic pain and musculoskeletal disorders. They work to restore function lost due to injury, illness or a disabling condition and provide non-surgical treatments and prevention. Rehabilitation doctors are nerve, muscle, and bone specialists who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. They have completed training in the medical specialty physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM & R).

Fibromyalgia Syndrome is characterized by tight, tender muscles, usually sore points in the neck, shoulders, chest, back, knees and hips. Insomnia, depression, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs syndrome, interstitial cystitis, mitral valve prolapse, cognitive dysfunction and more, are often associated with this condition. Fibromyalgia is chronic. Myofascial pain, though different different, often companies FM. Myofascial trigger points are taut bands or knots in the fascia that surrounds the muscle and every organ of the body. Chronic myofascial pain is a debilitating disease (once also identified as a syndrome).

Physiatrists may prescribe drugs or devices, such as a brace. They also use a variety of therapies such as heat and cold, biofeedback, electrotherapies, trigger point injections, massage, traction, and therapeutic exercise. Physiatrists do not perform surgery.

The Physical Medicine, Physiatrist, or Fibromyalgia Rehabilitation specialist's goal is to arm the patient with techniques to improve their quality of life, even if the condition is chronic. Each patient needs distinct care and each patient needs to identify their own specific rehabilitation treatment goals.

Physiatrists use a combination treatment methods that are individualized for every patient. A treatment plan will most likely include several of the following: education on fibromyalgia and / or chronic myofascial pain; medication; nutritional supplements; a pain management program (ie, moist heat, bioelectric therapy, ultrasound, and more); exercise (only after pain is decreed) which consist of postural stretches, light aerobic conditioning, and toning exercises; manual therapy which includes therapeutic massage, myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization, and adjustments; relaxation (deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, biofeedback, Yoga, Tai Chi); home program – once what works best is discovered, the patient will need to follow through with a home program on a regular basis.

Always talk to your doctor before starting a new therapy or treatment regimen! Together, you can decide what will work best for you. Ask your primary caregiver about physiatry and how it might benefit you! It's time to start feeling better and living again!