Physiatry Overview

At some point in their lives, 4 in 5 people will experience neck or back pain.  Worse, once you have your first back pain attack, you are 4 times more likely to have a recurrence.

It is common for acute (new) back pain symptoms that do not involve nerve damage (numbness, weakness or pain in an arm or leg) to respond to non-surgical treatment options such as manual therapies, strengthening/stabilization, massage and pain interventions.  Currently, the best spine care exhausts non-surgical treatment options for back and neck pain before spine surgery is even considered. Many patients use drugs to mask pain.  These drugs often leave a patient in a spiral of increasing pain and more dependent upon them for pain relief.  A Physiatrist, on the other hand, provides techniques and treatments that enable back and neck pain sufferers to return to activity typically without surgery.

What is a Physiatrist?

A Physiatrist, or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Doctor, specializes in the diagnosis and primarily nonsurgical management of physical impairments that are the result of an injury or disease state. This specialty involves an additional 4 years of training after medical school. In those years we spend many hours with patients, families, and physical/occupational and speech therapists to provide an informed comprehensive team approach. When other specialties tell the patient that they are unable to help, we typically have solutions and a deep understanding to the problems that patients and families are facing.

Each year we revisit anatomy with a cadaver. This provides a solid understanding of how anatomy and function are interrelated. This in turn enhances our examination skills. Our anatomy knowledge and physical exam skills are considered exceptional by other specialties in the medical field. Besides a thorough understanding of disease states and injuries, our training involves many hours of x-ray guided spinal procedures under the guidance of Anesthesia and Physiatry. We also spend countless hours performing diagnostic EMG and nerve conduction testing under the guidance of Neurology and Physiatry.

Your First Visit.

Dr. Soto will review your medical records and perform a focused history and physical exam. The purpose of this first visit is to determine the diagnosis and diagnostic or treatment plan. Depending on the complexity of the condition, additional records may need to be requested before any conclusion can be made. In most cases, a treatment plan is set in motion at the first visit.