When to See a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician

When you are in pain and experiencing a medical condition it can be hard to know which type of specialist to see. Within medicine there are many different disciplines and specialties. While referrals can help you find the right doctor to address your symptoms, it can also slow you down on your path to healing. In this post we will highlight physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, also referred to as PM&R physicians and physiatrists, what they do, what they diagnose, and when to see one.

So what are physiatrists? A physiatrist is a physician who focuses on treating conditions of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Physiatrists look at the big picture, taking all angles into account to help their patients avoid surgery. The primary goal of physiatrists is to improve a patient's quality of life, and restore daily function, versus trying to find a cure. Several key ways in which physiatrists are different from physicians of other specialties include:

  • The treatment of all ages
  • A focus on function
  • A focus on rehabilitation and pain management
  • Broad medical expertise
  • Work closely with physical and occupational therapists


Common conditions diagnosed by physiatrists include:

common foot problems sock image


Treatment administered by a physiatrist may include:

  • Pain medication: Including over the counter NSAIDs and prescription pain medication
  • Spinal injections
  • Joint injections
  • Soft tissue injections
  • Disc decompression surgery
  • Ablation procedures
  • Prosthetic surgery
  • Therapeutic exercise plans

When To See a Physiatrist

It’s time to see a physiatrist when you’ve experienced:

  • Chronic or worsening joint or bone pain
  • Arthritis
  • An illness that has limited physical functioning
  • Nerve damage
  • Surgery on one of the areas treated by physiatrists

Amongst the team of physiatrists at MidAmerica Orthopaedics is Robert Metzler, MD. Dr. Metzler works on our pain management team in conjunction with in house physical and occupational therapists to help return his patients to their daily activities. Dr. Metzler prides himself on taking a collaborative approach to find the least invasive healing plan possible.

Robert Metzler, MD
Robert Metzler, MD

To learn more about MidAmerica Orthopaedics and the different treatment options available to you, request an appointment online or call (708) 237-7200. MidAmerica Orthopaedics serves various areas such as Chicago, Tinley Park, Palos Hills, Mokena, Evergreen Park, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and more.

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