For most of us, when we don’t feel well we typically pay a visit to our primary care provider (PCP), commonly known as our family doctor. In cases of injuries, either from a car accident, a fall or any other type of accident, many people do not know where to turn for the most appropriate medical care. While your PCP certainly has the training to recognize various injuries, it might make sense to go directly to a specialist who is specifically trained to handle your type of injury. The following is a description of some of the medical providers you should consider when suffering an injury.
Orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons (same thing) focus on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin. If your injury has caused symptoms to your neck, back, arms, shoulders, legs or any of the related joints or muscles, an orthopedist is a good place to start. He or she will order any necessary tests to diagnose your injuries and formulate a treatment plan that may or may not include some of the other specialists discussed below.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, also known as physiatrists, are medical doctors who have completed training in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), and may be further certified in the subspecialties of brain injury medicine, spinal cord injury medicine, neuromuscular medicine, pain medicine, and/or sports medicine. These doctors treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Physical therapists help injured people improve movement and manage pain. They are often an important part of preventive care, rehabilitation, and treatment for patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries. You may be referred to a physical therapist by an orthopedist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or chiropractor.
A chiropractor is a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.
Pain Management Specialist
Generally, pain management includes a combination of therapies such as medications, physical therapy, interventional techniques such as nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections, and ablations (nerve burning). Pain management specialists are highly trained, usually in fellowship programs associated with anesthesiology, neurology or physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Neurologists and Neurosurgeons
While both neurologists and neurosurgeons diagnose and treat conditions that involve the nervous system, neurologists don’t perform surgery. Neurologists are focused on neurological conditions that can be corrected by medications or other therapies while neurosurgeons can perform surgery on conditions that affect the nervous system. Many common injuries to the neck and back can be addressed by either a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon.
Choosing The Right Doctor
It is important to choose a doctor who is experienced and well trained in treating the type of injury you may have suffered. With the technology available today, it is fairly easy to find out where a specialist was trained, what kind of experience he or she has in the particular specialty involved and what other patients say about them. Recommendations from other doctors, friends or family members are also helpful. If your treating physician refers you to a specialist, it is usually because he or she trusts that specialist and knows they are competent to treat your injuries. Because our clients have been injured in various types of accidents, we at Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein are familiar with many local physicians who treat injured people and we are always happy to assist you in finding the right doctor for you.