Yes, You Need To Know What Physiatry Is!

By South Charlotte Macaroni Kid March 3, 2017

Phsyiatry is not a form of medicine we often hear about. Physiatry, over the years, has grown as the demand for rehabilitation services have increased. Physiatrists specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In their training, they learn to diagnose, treat and use direct rehabilitation plans to provide care for the patients. OrthoCarolina offers many services provided by Physiatrists. They include: electrodiagnositc medicine, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and pain syndromes, and rehabilitation. The physiatrist works with a variety of therapists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, pathologists, etc. to provide the best rehabilitation plan for the patient.

Here are some tips, facts, and more information on Physiatry provided by Alicia Lazeski MD. Physiatrist at OrthoCarolina:

What is Physiatry?

Physiatry is a non-surgical specialty that treats a variety of musculoskeletal diagnoses with medications, injection therapy and physical therapy. Physiatrists spend the majority of their training focusing on how joints, muscles, tendons and nerves interact to produce functional movement and incorporate return to functional activities as part of their treatment plan. Typical diagnoses treated by a physiatrist include muscle strains, peripheral joint arthritis, neck/back pain from a variety of causes, and some nerve dysfunction.

How does Physiatry differ from traditional forms of treatment?

Like other specialties, physiatrists use a variety of tools to diagnose a condition and treat a given condition. However, some musculoskeletal conditions result in permanent disability and/or are chronic in nature, which may completely disrupt how a patient performs their normal activities. Physiatrists are trained to work within a patient’s functional limitations and can prescribe physical therapy to help the patient develop compensatory mechanisms, advise on the use of durable medical equipment that may help the patient perform daily activities, and even help a patient return to a variety of exercise regimens to promote overall health.

What are some common causes of back pain in adults and children?

In the adult population, the most common cause of back pain is a muscular strain. Fortunately, symptoms are typically self-limited.

In the adolescent population, back pain isn’t too common, however when present, there is concern for a condition called spondylolysis. Spondylolysis is a developmental defect in the pars interarticularis, a bridge of bone in the posterior spinal column. This particular defect behaves like a stress fracture. Most commonly affected adolescents are typically athletes whose sport requires repetitive lumbar extension (i.e. Gymnasts, football players, dancers, tennis)

What are common causes of neck pain in children and adults?

The more common cause of neck pain is a muscular strain.

What are some easy ways that people can prevent neck and back pain?

Focusing on posture is an easy way to prevent muscular sources of neck and back pain. Our daily activities typically involve sitting in front of a computer or looking down at our smart phones, which put additional strain on the posterior cervical musculature. Simply avoiding looking down for a long period of time will help prevent neck pain. It is also important to stretch! Stretch the pectoral muscles to prevent the shoulders from rolling forward. Stretch the hamstrings, calves and hip flexors to relieve lower back pain. Finally, stay active. Our bodies are meant to move. Physical activity is not only recommended for heart health, weight management, and psychological well-being, but physical activity helps keep our joints, muscles and tendons moving properly.

How does functional fitness help?

Functional fitness is the concept that training the body’s muscles to work together (integration) is more effective than training isolated muscle groups. The idea is to perform exercises that mimic real-life activities and situations, thereby preparing an individual for daily activities that require multiple muscle groups to work in concert. For instance, compare a seated row on a machine vs a bent-over row with free weights vs a rowing machine. The machine exercise isolates the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius. The bent-over row engages the core and erector spinae in addition to the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius. The rowing machine engages the full body including the core, legs, shoulder musculature and back musculature. The rowing machine is the best example of functional fitness, because it most closely mimics a real-life activity. It requires many muscle groups in the body to work together, because in the real world, most activities that activate the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius would also require activation of the core musculature, back musculature and leg musculature. Very few daily activities activate isolated muscle groups; so why train that way?

What are some common issues that you see patients for?

I predominantly see patients with neck and back pain which stems from muscular strains, degenerative changes of the spine, or irritated nerves at the level of the spine. I also treat a variety of other issues including myofascial pain, rotator cuff strains, impingement syndrome, piriformis syndrome, and trochanter bursitis.

Do you work with children with special needs and medical concerns? How do you treat them?

My clinic is limited to patients age 16 and older, however we do have several pediatric orthopedic specialists within Orthocarolina that treat a variety of diagnoses.

Is Physiatry a good option for student athletes who are suffering from overuse injuries or common growth issues like Osgood for example?

Absolutely! Overuse injuries tend to respond well to non-surgical management. Additionally, physiatrists can guide student athletes on return to sport by progressing them through range of motion exercises, followed by sport specific conditioning and eventual return to play.

How can Physiatry help with pain management?

As with any specialty, physiatry’s goal is to reduce a patient’s pain by correcting the underlying cause of the pain. This goal can be accomplished by relative rest, physical therapy, injection therapy or use of a variety of medications.

For more information on Physiatry and the other services that OrthoCarolina offers visit: To make an appointment with Dr. Lazeski call 704-323-2225 or visit this link

About Dr. Lazeski

Dr. Lazeski is a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, providing comprehensive non-operative care for neck pain, back pain and musculoskeletal injuries. She attended the Florida Institute of Technology earning two bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biochemistry followed by SUNY Upstate Medical University, earning her medical degree. She went on to complete a one-year preliminary medicine internship at UHS Wilson Memorial in Binghamton NY and a three year residency specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Carolinas Rehabilitation - Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte NC. Her clinical interests include myofascial pain, electrodiagnosis, MSK ultrasound, and utilizing a multidisciplinary team to treat non-operative diagnoses.