Chronic pain can take an extraordinary physical and emotional toll that affects all areas of a persons' life including day-to-day activities, mental health, vocation and home life. Millions of Americans suffer from persistent pain each year, which can be caused by a number of factors. 

Penn Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) offers hope to those living with pain by providing comprehensive evaluation regarding the cause of the painful condition, then pain treatment and management services that address the unique needs of each patient.

Common Types of Pain Treated by Physiatrists

The most common reason people seek the care of a physiatrist is because they are experiencing some type of pain. Back pain is the most common type of pain treated by physiatrists. Typically surgery is not needed to relieve back pain and it can be successfully treated with a combination of focused physical therapy, pain medications, and when necessary, spinal injections. It is common to treat back pain with an active exercise program that teaches postural techniques that decrease pain. Back pain can lead to:

  • Limited range of motion, flexibility
  • Problems standing and walking
  • Physical and emotional stress

Other common types of pain treated by physiatrists are:

How Our Rehabilitation Team Treats Pain

Our interdisciplinary team of physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation nurses provide the latest advancements in pain treatment services. Our experienced physiatrists are highly skilled in evaluating and diagnosing the cause of pain. After the source of the pain is pinpointed, an individualized treatment plan is created that treats the "whole person", not just the problem area, to decrease pain and restore physical function.

What to Expect at a Physical Exam for Pain Management

A physiatrist will consult with you about your pain and how it may be affecting your everyday life. The initial examination will include a detailed medical, vocational and psychosocial history as well as a comprehensive neurological and musculoskeletal exam. Tests such as EMG and nerve conduction testing may be ordered to evaluate for nerve injury. To rule out the possibility of disease such as cancer, tests such as MRI imaging of the spine or other body regions may be performed. Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment protocol is designed that may include education, functional restoration through physical therapy, behavior modification, pain medication or spinal injections with corticosteroid medications.

Common Ways to Treat Pain

Common ways to treat and manage pain include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Individualized exercise program
  • Anesthetic or anti-inflammatory injections
  • Pain medication
  • Education and supportive counseling

In This Section

Pain Treatment team

Meet the team of providers with the most comprehensive, individualized and compassionate pain relief treatments.

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