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The Power of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)

The Power of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)

Contributing Author: Preeti Panchang, MD, Valley Health Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The medical field can often times be complicated, frustrating, and downright overwhelming for the general consumer. When we set out to see a doctor, we usually do our due diligence: researching providers, practices, asking our friends, family and co-workers who and where they recommend. When it comes to pain, we seek answers, to quickly see a provider and to hopefully, find relief. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation or PM&R is a branch of medicine that aims to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities. These disabilities my affect the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

We would like to take a few minutes to break down commonly asked questions about PM&R and possibly assist you in navigating your way to a provider.

What is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)?

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians, also known as Rehab Physicians or Physiatrists specialize in a field of medicine that treat a variety of conditions involving the brain, spinal cord, muscles, ligaments, joints, bones, amputation. Our main goal is to improve function and quality of life.

What kind of conditions do we treat?

Pain involving joints, such as: shoulders, hips, knees, neck and back pain, muscle sprain, and carpal tunnel. Patients with amputations for prosthetic prescriptions and gait imbalances are frequently seen. Botulinum injections (Brand names include Botox, Xeomin) are performed for migraines and spasticity.

What is the training involved to be a Rehab specialist?

Rehab specialists complete 4 years of medical school and 4 years residency in PM&R. I chose to complete another year of training and specialization (fellowship) in Musculoskeletal and Amputee Medicine after my residency training. We are then required to successfully complete two exams in order to be Board Certified.

How is PM&R Doctor different from a Physical Therapist (PT)?

PM&R physician are involved in diagnosing and managing medical conditions. We prescribe oral and topical medications, braces, splints, perform, injections and prescribe Physical Therapy as indicated. We do not actually perform the therapies.

Physical Therapists provide exercises and use modalities such as a TENS unit, heat, cold, electrical stimulation, and develop an exercise regimen for strengthening, stretching and improving range of motion or use of the affected body area.

PM&R physicians and PTs frequently collaborate and work closely to ensure optimal results for our patients.

If you or someone that you know is living with an injury or chronic condition resulting in pain or limited function, tendinopathy, carpal tunnel, muscle strains, etc , seeking a PM&R physician may be an avenue worth exploring. Dr. Panchang and her team offer individualized pain relief treatments to all who call Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland home.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Panchang, please call 540-536-5121 or visit the Valley Health Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation practice page via