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A physiatrist (fizz ee at' trist) is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatrists treat a wide range of problems from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. They see patients in all age groups and treat problems that touch upon all the major systems in the body. These specialists focus on restoring function to people.

To become a physiatrist, individuals must successfully complete four years of graduate medical education and four additional years of postdoctoral residency training.

Physiatrists treat acute and chronic pain and musculoskeletal disorders. They may see a person who lifts a heavy object at work and experiences back pain, a basketball player who sprains an ankle and needs rehabilitation to play again, or a knitter who has carpal tunnel syndrome. Physiatrists' patients include people with arthritis, tendonitis, any kind of back pain, and work- or sports-related injuries.

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Chiropractors specialize in the non-drug treatment of musculoskeletal problems, including joint sprains and disk injuries. When needed, chiropractors use x-ray to screen for fractures and other bone disorders, such as osteoporosis.

Chiropractic treatments usually involve adjusting the joints and bones in a person's spine using gentle movements to help restore the natural balance that was there before the injury.

Chiropractic is based on the theory that many medical disorders may be caused by dislocations in the spine. Chiropractic medicine originated in the late 1800s in the United States. About 12% to 15% of the population of the United States receives treatment from chiropractors.

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Physical therapy is administered by licensed professionals to help ease pain and restore the function of an injured area.

Physical therapists utilize various modalities to reduce pain including:

  • Ultrasound
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Phonophoresis
  • Iontophoresis
  • Parafin
  • Cryotherapy
  • Moist heat
  • Myofascial realease
  • Massage

To restore function:

  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Neuromuscular reeducation
  • Stretching and strengthening programs
  • Gait training

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Acupuncture has been used for 2000 years, thus having proven to be very effective in a wide variety of acute and chronic health-related disorders, as well as for preventative health care. Acupuncture treatments are not only useful for pain management, but also part of a comprehensive system of preventative healthcare and maintenance.

Acupuncture is often used to relieve pain. Western medicine practitioners who have studied acupuncture believe that it reduces pain through body chemicals that have calming effects (opioid peptides).

Traditional acupuncture usually is done by putting very thin needles into the skin at certain points on the body to produce energy flow along the body's meridians. In the United States, acupuncture needles are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as therapeutic devices

In addition to being highly effective in the treatment of pain, acupuncture has been used in other conditions including: Smoking Cessation, Infertility, Hormone Imbalance and Digestive problems.

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Treatment for any back condition is recommended as soon as possible to minimize the danger of further aggravation. The following is a list of only some of the conditions that may cause low back pain and is not a substitute for a visit to your doctor:

  • Radiculopathy - A pinched nerve, also called sciatica, usually from a herniated, or slipped, disk.
  • Myofascial Pain - Generally an aching pain in muscles that tends to come from poor posture, sitting at a computer, or other job-related tasks. Often patients report that they have difficulty sleeping or feeling restored from sleep.
  • Spinal Stenosis - A narrowing of the nerve openings either around the spinal cord or nerve roots that can cause symptoms similar to a pinched nerve. It can cause leg pain in anyone, but most often does so in older people.
  • Non-Spinal Causes of Low Back - Pain imitating a back injury, but from another cause. Appendicitis, kidney disease, uterine disorders and urinary tract infections are a few examples of problems that can refer pain to the back.

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Electromyography/nerve conduction studies may be needed when low back pain is associated with lower extremity symptoms and there is no indication of the cause on imaging. They provide neurophysiological information only in the event of neural injury. The location, type, and extent of the lesion can be determined to my: The mechanism cannot.

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