Physiatry

What is Physiatry?

It is physical and rehabilitation medicine. Doctors who practice physiatry are called physiatrists. Their goal is to maximize a return to optimal function and quality of life for patients with disabilities or disabling diseases of bones, muscles and nerves. They must work within the limitations placed on the patient due to the patient’s disease or disability. Physiatrists are expert diagnosticians, and treat patients of all ages using only nonsurgical approaches. They do not do surgery.

The orthopedic surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County work closely with our physiatrist to ensure our patients achieve functional improvement and pain reduction so they can participate in and enjoy their lives to the best of their abilities.

What conditions do they treat?

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spine- related pain and dysfunction
  • Occupational injuries
  • Chronic pain including arthritic pain
  • Sports injury
  • Musculoskeletal injuries

They offer nonsurgical, personalized rehabilitative medicine. They practice in outpatient and inpatient setting where they provide general medical care to maintain medical stability to prevent or limit disability.

What types of procedures and treatments do they use?

They use the same diagnostic tools as other specialties. In addition they use tests to diagnose nerve and muscle damage.

  • An electromyography (EMG) is a test to evaluate muscles when relaxed and stimulated, to gage the patient’s abilities and diagnose problems.
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS) test motor and sensory responses to electric stimuli. This can diagnose pinched nerves, and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Joint injections are used to diagnose bone and soft tissue disorders found in orthopedics, rheumatology and sports medicine for things like knee arthritis, tennis elbow and tendon problems.
  • Trigger point injections use local anesthetic as an adjunct to exercise and physical therapy to treat chronic soft tissue pain.
  • Image guided spinal diagnostics and injections like epidurals for nonsurgical pain relief.
  • Platelet rich plasma(PRP) injections and stem cell treatments.
  • They write prescriptions for precise exercise programs to maintain and increase range of motion, muscle strength, muscle relaxation, and to improve awareness of joint position.

Physiatrists play an important role in treating disabilities by focusing on the entire body, which is vital for hard to diagnose pain. Their tools are geared to conservative approaches to lower the risk of complications. Physiatrists are important in treating aging patients who live with chronic pain or disability.

At Orthopaedic Specialists of North County we provide state-of-the-art care to patients in Greater San Diego County including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach, California. We are dedicated to conservative treatments and rehabilitation programs designed for your particular needs to help you achieve physical wellbeing.


"The entire team at OSNC is great, very professional and took the time to put me at ease. And I only have praise for the Dr. Erik Stark, a wonderful doctor who never disappoints!" Patient of Dr. Erik Stark
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