Why See a Physiatrist?

 What does a physiatrist do?

Our Approach to Care

Physiatry, sometimes referred to as PM & R or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is a medical specialty that cares for a wide spectrum of patients who are looking to regain strength and optimal functionality. Patients who can benefit from a physiatry examination include individuals with musculoskeletal disorders like back and neck pain or those who have physical disability related to stroke, brain injury, spinal cord disorders, and trauma. Like your primary care physician, who is the first health professional you visit for routine care, a physiatrist is often the first health professional to call when you have issues with your ability to move, have pain, or require rehabilitation for sports and work-related injuries.

Our physiatrists are experts in non-surgical back and other musculoskeletal problems and work closely with orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists to ensure you have the appropriate level of care needed for your recovery. We also provide an annual follow-up program for impairments resulting from stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputations, multiple sclerosis and other neuromuscular disorders. During your annual evaluation, we will assess your function, review your medications, and make recommendations to maximize your quality of life.

Video: When should I see a physiatrist?

Video: What is physiatry?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “physiatry”?

Physiatry (fiz eye’ a tree) is the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Medical doctors trained in this field deal with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disability caused by accident, or acute and chronic disease. Unless it’s obvious that surgery is required, a referral to a physiatrist is typically the first step following an injury.

What kinds of conditions do physiatrists treat?

A doctor who is trained in physiatry is especially adept at helping people who are recovering from minor to serious injuries related to:

  • Sports injuries
  • Work-related accidents
  • Back, knee or shoulder problems and other musculoskeletal disorders
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis and other neuromuscular or movement disorders
  • Effects of cancer treatment
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Amputations
  • Arthritis
Physiatrists also help people who have acute and chronic pain issues through the use of comprehensive rehabilitation and, when needed, Interventional Physiatry. 

What is “interventional physiatry”?

Interventional Physiatry is a minimally invasive, targeted procedure that can help diagnose many issues and reduce pain. During Interventional Physiatry, a specially trained physician uses X-rays to guide the precise placement of a steroid injection with a small needle. Gaylord’s Dr. Bruce Hsu, board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, completed an Interventional Spine Fellowship and is specifically trained in Interventional Physiatry. Typically, Interventional Physiatrists perform procedures such as:

  • Joint Injections: Sacroiliac, knee, hip and shoulder
  • Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections, interlaminar and transforaminal
  • Nerve Root Block Injections
  • Occipital Nerve Block
  • Sciatic Nerve Block
  • Trigger Point Injections
  • Intercostal Nerve Block
  • Diagnosis and Conditions Treated
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Radiculopathy
  • Radicular lower extremity pain
  • Low back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain from post-surgical scars
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Sciatica (sciatic nerve irritation)
  • Spasticity
  • Spondylosis and facet joint pain 

What are steroid injections?

Steroid injections are a common treatment for many forms of low back pain, leg pain, joint pain and radicular pain. They can be an integral part of the non-surgical management of conditions like sciatica and low back pain. The goal of the injection is pain relief. At times, the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief. However, steroid injections are commonly used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program to provide additional benefit. Since the vast majority of pain stems from chemical inflammation, a steroid injection can help control local inflammation, while also “flushing out” inflammatory proteins and chemicals from the local area that may contribute to pain.

Why should I see a physiatrist?

There are several reasons why you should consider seeing a physiatrist when you’ve had an accident, or suffer from a disease that limits your mobility or gives you chronic or acute pain:

  • Physiatry is a medical specialty.
  • Physiatrists are medical doctors, M.D.s and D.O.s.
  • Physiatrists treat the whole person, not just a condition.
  • Physiatrists use the latest treatments and modalities.
  • No problem is ever too small or too big for a physiatrist.
  • Physiatry treatment is highly individualized to meet the specific needs of the patient.
  • Physiatry can often help people avoid surgery.
  • The physiatrist’s job is restore as much function and independence as possible.
  • The physiatrist works with a team of health care professionals including other specialists, nurses and 
  • therapists.
  • Physiatrists can help with acute and chronic pain management issues


Outpatient Therapy Referrals and Appointments (Wallingford and North Haven): (203) 284-2888

Outpatient Medical Services Referrals and Appointments: (203) 284-2845

Outpatient Referral Fax: (203) 294-8705

To schedule an appointment with a physiatrist: (203) 294-3270


Gaylord Hospital Gaylord Wellness Center Gaylord Sleep Medicine / Guilford
Gaylord Hospital

Gaylord Farm Road

Wallingford, CT 06492

(203) 284-2800

Gaylord Physical Therapy, Orthopedics
and Sports Medicine

8 Devine Street

North Haven, CT 06473

203-230-9226 / 203-284-2818 Sleep Medicine

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare