What is Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation?
The specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) is not one that many people are immediately familiar with, yet it is one that serves thousands of people every year. Also known as Physiatry, it is sometimes simply referred to as Rehabilitation or Rehab. This specialty focuses on restoring quality of life for patients who are experiencing physical pain or loss of function after a traumatic illness or injury. After major surgery, a car accident, a long illness such as cancer, or a major change to the body (such as the loss of a limb), it is the PM&R physicians who help patients begin to feel better and put the pieces of their life back together again.
PM&R physicians work with patients who have been disabled by pain or the loss of motion or cognition, and they find ways to restore function. They may consult with other physicians such as neurologists, orthopedists, physical therapists, or psychiatrists. PM&R specialists treat the whole person, not specific symptoms or illnesses, and their goal is to help patients lead active and able lives.
One example of services performed by a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician is teaching a patient who just had a leg amputated how to get around the house, use the bathroom, bathe, and care for themselves. A different example might be helping a patient learn how to walk again after a traumatic brain injury. Because there are so many different causes of pain and disability, the list of services provided by PM&R physicians is nearly endless. Generally, services that are provided by a PM&R specialist can fall into one of the following care categories:
Self-care skills (bathing, grooming)
Physical care (feeding, taking medication)
Respiratory care (ventilator care, exercises for lung function)
Cognitive skills (memory, problem solving)
Psychological counseling (adapting to a disability)
Because there are so many options, it can be a very creative specialty. When accidents, pain, or illness cause disability, it is the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who are there to give patients their life back.
What is Anesthesiology?
Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dealing with the safety and comfort of patients during medical procedures, especially surgery. While many people think of anesthesiology as strictly providing pain control, anesthesiologists are also responsible for monitoring and supporting the health of patients during surgery. By paying attention to a patient’s vital signs, an anesthesiologist can both judge how effective the anesthesia is working and intervene if there are problems.
In many cases, an anesthesiologist evaluates patients before surgery, manages their health during surgery, and treats their pain after surgery. They may offer general anesthesia (where a patient is ‘put under’), local anesthesia to numb a certain area, or sedatives to calm anxiety before a medical procedure. Some anesthesiologists use their training in pain relief to help patients who suffer from chronic or cancer pain.
During a surgical procedure, anesthesiologists monitor the health of their patients. Among other vital signs, they may be watching:
Level of consciousness
If there is a sudden problem during surgery, the anesthesiologist is generally one of the first to know. They act quickly to correct the problem and keep the patient safe through surgery.
More than just the doctor who puts you to sleep, anesthesiologists are highly trained physicians who work to keep you safe and comfortable.
A chiropractor is a licensed healthcare professional that focuses on restricted movement or inflammation in the joints of the musculoskeletal system that may be putting pressure on the spinal column and nerves. These impingements, as they are known, are thought to affect the health of the entire body. Chiropractors use non-invasive techniques to adjust the restricted joints with the goal of reducing pain and increasing mobility. Chiropractic is generally categorized as alternative or complementary medicine.
Patients may see a chiropractor for any variety of complaint, but most commonly, they seek treatment for back pain, neck pain, headaches, or joint issues. Chiropractors are specially trained to examine the joints, bones, and muscles of the body and to notice misalignment, tenderness, or asymmetry. They also check their patients for range of motion, stability, and muscle tone. Chiropractors are trained in using imaging (such as xrays) and orthopedic or neurologic testing to gain a good understanding of the problems affecting their patients.
When joints have become restricted in their ability to move by injury or inflammation, a chiropractor may perform what is called an adjustment to try and restore motion. When applied to the vertebrae of the spine, this technique is called spinal manipulation. It involves the application of a small amount of force directly to the joint, either by hand or with chiropractic tools (such as a spring-loaded activator). This allows the joint to begin moving freely again, frees up nerve tissues that may have been caught by an inflamed joint, and increases blood flow, all of which encourage healing. When it comes to the spine specifically, the belief is that restoring its structural integrity reduces pressure on surrounding neurological tissues of the spinal column and nerve branches, which reduces pain and improves health.
Chiropractic is one of the fastest growing health specialties in the United States. It can often treat problems with pain and joint mobility effectively, without the use of surgery or medications. Because of this, it continues to gain in popularity.
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