Dr. Mark LaBeau - Physical Medicine in Encinitas, California
What is a Physiatrist and What Conditions Can They Treat?
When you get injured, your initial thought may be to make an appointment directly with an orthopedic surgeon, chiropractor, or sports medicine physician. But these are not your only options; there is a relatively new practice that helps a wide range of individuals, including those experiencing injury, illness, or musculoskeletal pain. This kind of doctor is called a physiatrist.
Physiatrists offer secondary prevention of disability, take a non-surgical approach to rehabilitation, and are committed to problems of the musculoskeletal system. Consulting with a physiatrist before seeking surgical treatment can be a valuable decision. Physiatrists offer big-picture insight to help patients understand their full spectrum of treatment options.
Physiatrists operate in many different settings such as inpatient rehab, outpatient clinics, and pediatric clinics.
What is a Physiatrist?
A 'physiatrist' is a physician who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A physiatrist is a highly trained physician that focuses on whole body treatment for the musculoskeletal system and its pain-causing disorders. A physiatrist diagnoses, manages, and treats pain from injury, illness, or medical conditions, predominantly using physical methods for recovery such as physical therapy and medicine. The objective of a physiatrist is to help individuals restore their functional well being and to resume a healthy and functional life.
Role of a Physiatrist
Physiatrists examine the big picture. Their training is broad, and lets them consider the total body, as opposed to just one organ. By considering other areas of the body, physiatrists can be useful for pinpointing difficult-to-diagnose pain by examining the relationships of all the moving parts of the body. A physiatrist's goal is to restore functionality in patients suffering from injuries, diseases, and disorders.
Physiatrists frequently act as a consultant to physicians, such as primary care doctors and neurologists, or lead a team of medical professionals to optimize a patient's treatment. When a physiatrist takes a main role in your rehabilitation, they will do everything, from creating your step-by-step plan for rehabilitation, to guiding your entire rehabilitation team, enlisting the support of several specialists such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, care managers, and other physicians and professionals.
Physiatrists can use nonsurgical procedures to treat injury and illness, and manage pain. This can involve prescribing adjuvant and analgesic medications to help with function recovery, strength and flexibility exercises, and aids such as braces and wheelchairs. For those requiring surgical procedures, consulting with a physiatrist before and after surgery can be quite helpful in speeding up recovery and preserving functionality.
Because a physiatrist concentrates on functional wellness, they tailor your treatment to your needs. If you just want to go up the stairs or be able to play on the floor with your kids, your treatment program may be different than an injured Olympic athlete wanting to compete professionally again. Whatever your needs, a physiatrist can help get you there. Physiatrists will:
- Define the value and role of physical therapy in your treatment, advising patients on proper exercise techniques.
- Design a tailored physical therapy regimen.
- Act as a health and nutrition consultant to help patients develop healthy habits.
- Prescribe and manage medication.
- Give injections to a patient's pain areas to help relieve pain and repair function.
- Secure psychosocial support, and the support of other medical professionals.
- Prescribe complementary therapies, such as medical acupuncture.
If an individual doesn't respond favorably to nonsurgical treatment, a physiatrist may refer patients to a surgical specialist.
Physical Medicine in Encinitas
Physiatrists complete training needed to treat a variety of medical conditions that impact the musculoskeletal system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Training includes an undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, as well as four years of residency. After residency, physiatrists might elect to specialize. In this case, physiatrists will complete a fellowship in a specific area. Some options are listed below.
In the following specialties, a physician will learn to:
- Rehabilitate the spine after injury. Because back pain is a common problem, many physiatrists decide to specialize in treating the spine. They might focus more on rehabilitation of the spine or spinal pain management.
- Treat chronic musculoskeletal pain and learn to prescribe medicines and physical therapy for pain main management.
- Rehabilitate after sports injuries.
- Repair function of the brain after stroke or injury. Physicians will determine and prescribe treatment for individuals, attending to changes such as poor memory, impulsivity, and communication disabilities.
- Rehabilitate the nerves and function of the spinal cord.
- Specialize in treating patients under the age of 18.
What Procedures do Physiatrists Perform?
As mentioned above, Physiatrists perform non-surgical procedures. These treatments might consist of:
- Electromyography (EMG): Placing fine needle electrodes into muscles to measure the performance of muscles and nerves. This helps physiatrists discern if weakness is due to dysfunction of the muscles or nerves.
- Nerve conduction studies (NCS): Using electrodes to determine the location of a nervous system injury.
- Peripheral joint injections: Injecting bone and soft tissues to help diagnose and treat disorders.
- Trigger point injections: Using lidocaine or dry needling on trigger points to relieve soft tissue pain.
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound: Using internal imagery through an ultrasound to assess soft tissue abnormalities, and to guide injections.
- Spasticity management: Using oral antispasticity agents to treat spasticity after CNS injury (stroke, cerebral palsy, etc.), and to help ease pain.
- Physiatrists may also offer treatments such as image-guided spinal diagnostics and injections, epidural injections, radiofrequency ablation, and other procedures such as acupuncture, and stem cell treatments.
Dr. LaBeau has a nutritionally based Family Practice enjoying working with families and patients of all ages. As an Osteopathic Physician he finds that many of his patient’s health concerns are also affected by compromised circulation due to musculoskeletal malalignments. This total health approach of considering both body and chemistry allows him to treat the cause of a patient’s problem which renders more effective overall healing.
For further information about Dr. LaBeau’s practice and Physical Medicine in Encinitassee drlabeau.com