April.21.2017

What is a Physiatrist?

physiatrist treating pain

If you’ve been seriously injured, the road to recovery can mean a lot of visits to doctors and specialists. One of those visits may be with a physiatrist. But what is a physiatrist? What do they do? And how do they help?

For some people, it may be a confusing term the first time they come across it. Not a physician. Not a physicist. A physiatrist – pronounced like fizz-EYE-a-trist. And they work to help you find a treatment plan to get on your best path to recovery.

Physiatrists are medical professionals who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation for patients who have been injured or are suffering pain. They diagnose and treat a variety of injuries and disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and joints – just about anywhere you can be hurt and feel pain.

Of course, not all pain comes from injuries. Physiatrists also treat pain related to diseases such as a stroke, arthritis, or other serious ailments. You need to see a physiatrist if you:

  • have been seriously injured and suffer severe pain
  • suffer from a chronic condition that leaves you in pain or with reduced function
  • have had an illness that’s negatively affected your body’s ability to function
  • are recovering from surgery, a difficult childbirth, or the effects of injury or illness

Physiatrists are highly trained and skilled medical professionals and are members of the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons (click here for BC). Appointments are by referral only, so first talk to your doctor about seeing a physiatrist. He or she is best suited to assess your need for such a specialist. There are many services available to help you with your injury, pain, and recovery – talk to your doctor about the right one needed to get you back on track.

For more information

  • Canadian Association of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, CAPM&R website
  • UBC Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UBC website 
  • Concussion Information for British Columbia, HealthLink BC

Aimee King

Aimee King

Aimee joined Slater Vecchio LLP in February 2007. Aimee has represented clients in both the Provincial and the Supreme Courts of British Columbia.