Physiatry & Stress Management


One treatment option in non-surgical spine rehabilitation is physiatry. This is a practice that combines physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physicians who practice this are called physiatrists. They specialize in a number of problems from spinal cord injuries to sore shoulders.

Physiatry is recommended for treating acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is commonly brought about by injury or arthritis. Chronic pain is pain that lasts for over six months and may even go on for a year.

This rehabilitation option can also be useful for musculoskeletal disorders. The aim, as with most rehabilitation, is to restore full function of the damaged or injured areas. It is also desired to remove the patient’s back pain and promote healing.

Physiatrists prescribe treatment such as medication, back braces, and other assistive devices. They also use different therapies, from interventional pain management, massage, electrotherapies, biofeedback, cold packs, traction and therapeutic exercise.

During rehabilitation, it is also important to manage stress. Spinal problems, surgery, hospital bills, and medication are bound to cause a lot of worry and anxiety. And this can have a bad effect on the patient. This is why it is recommended to practice stress management techniques before surgery. It is for the same reason that stress management is included in rehabilitation treatment.

A variety of techniques may be recommended to you by your physician. Deep breathing can help, but it must be done properly. Take deep breaths from your diaphragm. Do this slowly and follow a rhythm in breathing. Saying a word or phrase may help keep the rhythm as well.

Meditation is quite similar to deep breathing exercises, with the addition of something to focus on. Your doctor can recommend a book or specific method, but this would depend on what you are comfortable with. Religion may also be a factor in this rehabilitation option, some may prefer praying as a form of meditation.

Guided imagery is another way to deal with stress. It can take your mind off pain and relieve anxiety. Guided imagery involves imagining or visualizing things that bring you comfort. The image may differ from person to person, but it is akin to going to your happy place where you are better relaxed and more open to healing. This can be done when guided by a therapist, or a certain scenario can be given to you to come back to in times of stress. There are also tapes that can be used to facilitate this.

Most doctors will advise you during rehabilitation to get back to doing what you like as soon as possible. This would help prevent depression and give you enough motivation to go through rehabilitation. They also recommend that you distract yourself from the pain. This can be something easy like going to see a movie, indulging a hobby or taking a drive. The activity differs from person to person and helps you return to your normal activities as soon as possible. If your preferred distraction is a little physically strenuous, like hiking, make sure to ask your doctor first if it’s ok.

Even though physical activity may hurt, it’s important to get some exercise. This is different from exercises prescribed to you by your physical therapist. This refers more to low-impact physical activities that you like. It can be something like gardening or ballroom dancing. Like with any other activity, make sure to ask your doctor first.