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Back Pain After a Car Accident: Can a Physiatrist Help?

Back Pain After a Car Accident Can a Physiatrist Help

Getting into an auto accident is a stressful experience. You have to deal with expensive damage and insurance claims for your vehicle, and you may experience residual pain caused by whiplash or other injuries.

Sometimes a motor vehicle accident can cause chronic pain like back pain. In these situations, it’s essential to find a physiatrist in NYC who can address your symptoms and provide care for long-term healing. However, you may ask yourself, “What does a physiatrist do for back pain?”

Keep reading to learn the holistic physical medicine a physiatrist can provide.

What Is a Physiatrist?

A physiatrist is a medical doctor who treats spinal cord, muscle, joint, tendon, and ligament issues through physical medicine and rehabilitation. These issues can manifest as physical pain and could cause related problems like migraines, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Thus, these professionals can treat various patients and ailments like sports injuries, chronic back pain, and car accident patients.

According to the CDC, 39% of adults in 2021 experienced back pain. While not all these cases result from car accidents, anyone who struggles with this chronic pain may benefit from the physical medicine a physiatrist can provide.

Find a “physiatrist near me” by checking Injured Call Today’s network of doctors and physicians who specialize in treating auto-accident patients.

Difference Between a Physiatrist and Physical Therapist

While looking for “rehabilitation near me,” it’s essential to understand the difference between a physiatrist and a physical therapist. Although their services seem similar, the level of care a physiatrist and physical therapist can provide will differ.

First, physiatrists can offer diagnostic services and help identify the problem you are experiencing. While physiatrists specialize in many physical therapy practices, they can also conduct invasive treatments like corticosteroid injections. Finally, physiatrists may lead teams of other related caregivers, can recommend treatment, or refer you to another specialist.

Physical therapists are more readily available practitioners to help maintain the care you receive from a physiatrist. After diagnosis, your physiatrist may refer you to a physical therapist for routine physical exercises to promote healthier functioning and reduce back pain. The efficacy of physical therapy is one reason the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 17% growth in the profession from 2021 to 2031.  

When Should I Stop Self-Care and Go to a Physiatrist?

When patients initially seek care for back pain, primary care physicians may prescribe self-care practices like heating or cooling pads, stretches, or rest. However, these practices may not address the level of pain a patient experiences, requiring more specialized care.

If the self-care practices your primary care physician prescribes no longer reduce pain and improve your range of motion, it might be time to see a physiatrist. They can help you diagnose the problem and craft a plan for how long you should go to physical therapy to heal the issue long-term.  

Common Causes of Back Pain

While wondering, “What does a physiatrist do for back pain?” it’s crucial to understand some of the causes of chronic back pain. Many of these may result from a car accident or can develop throughout your lifetime through eventual decline.

Intervertebral Disc Degeneration

Your spinal discs provide an essential cushion between each vertebrate in your spine. Over time, wear and tear can reduce the thickness of these discs, causing bulging or herniations. These irregularities could cause both leg and back pain that is crippling for many patients experiencing these problems.

Spinal Stenosis

The spine is more than just a bone that gives our back structure. Within the spine are channels of nerves protected by the bones that offer crucial motor and sensory functions. This channel can narrow over time through spinal stenosis, causing pain while walking, standing, and other daily functioning.

Lumbar Facet Joint Osteoarthritis

Facet joints provide support for the back’s finer motor functions. If these joints wear down over time through osteoporosis and arthritis, you’ll likely experience back pain, especially during more subtle spinal movements.

Hip Joint Arthritis

In the United States, 24% of adults have arthritis. However, the joints and ligaments that suffer from this condition play a significant role in determining related pain, like back pain.

If you experience hip-joint arthritis, the breakdown of cartilage in this joint may not only cause pain while walking but could also cause lower back pain. Sometimes felt in the buttocks or lower back, these forms of pain may improve with physical therapy and invasive treatments.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint connects your pelvis to your lower spine, making it a critical point that could cause lower back pain. A breakdown of cartilage in this joint, arthritis, or more extreme injuries like fractures could cause intense and long-lasting lower back pain.

Physiatrist Treatment and Physical Medicine for Back Pain

Physiatrists undergo years of training and academics to learn how the body works and how to provide healthy, beneficial treatments for a wide range of medical issues. As such, physiatrists use multiple treatment practices to address back pain.

Conservative Care

Conservative care is the typical starting point for physiatrist care. Most physiatrists hope to heal back pain through these non-invasive, drug-free treatments, which may include deep-tissue massage, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and daily exercises.

Invasive Treatments and Surgical Procedures

If the efficacy of conservative care reduces throughout treatment, physiatrists may prescribe more extreme measures. These can include everything from steroidal injections in the spine to spinal surgery. While most practitioners prefer starting with conservative care, some severe car accident injuries might require these invasive treatments.

Find a Physiatrist Near Me Through Injured Call Today

Find a Physiatrist Near Me

Are you looking for a car accident doctor? Doctors in our directory accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

For more answers to the question “What does a physiatrist do for back pain?” or to search for a doctor within our network, call (800) 897-8440 and ask Injured Call Today how we can help.