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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

A physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, also known as a physiatrist, is an orthopedist who specializes in non-surgical treatments for joint, tendon, ligament and muscle injuries.

If you have an orthopedic injury or condition but are not ready for surgery, a visit with a UC San Diego Health physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist may help you better understand the full range of your treatment options. In addition, your physiatrist can perform advanced diagnostic tests such as electromyography and nerve conduction studies to more accurately understand the cause of your problems. 

Conditions Treated

Physiatrists treat all types of conditions and diseases affecting your muscular-skeletal and neuromuscular function. 

Treatments

Physiotherapy or therapeutic exercise is a cornerstone of physical medicine. You will likely be referred to physical therapy if your physiatrist believes a targeted exercise program can help you.

Injections

Your doctor may also recommend an injection to reduce inflammation, pain and help confirm a diagnosis. Injections are a common treatment for people who are not ready or a good candidate for surgery.

Types of joint injections that we offer include:

  • Steroid injections
  • Hyaluronic acid injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Ultrasound-guided injection procedures

Your physiatrist can also perform spinal injections for back pain and sacroiliac joint pain, including:

  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Diagnostic nerve blocks
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Facet joint injections
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint injections

Osteopathic Manual Manipulation (OMT)

Osteopathic manual manipulation involves stretching, gentle pressure and resistance to move muscles and joints. It can restore function in some people by:

  • Changing resting tension in a muscle or tendon
  • Improving alignment of bones and joints
  • Altering structures impinging on nerves
  • Releasing stress held in myofascial tissue

Braces, Orthotics, Prostheses and Adaptive Equipment

Orthopedic devices, orthotics, prostheses and other adaptive equipment can help:

  • Support and correct the function of an injured or damaged part of the body
  • Treat and prevent all types of chronic pain
  • Help amputee patients attain a greater level of functional independence 

Ergonomic Workspace

A poorly designed workspace can cause and aggravate chronic pain. Your physiatrist can provide recommendations for an ergonomic office or at-home work environment.