Dr. Wasserburger
SPORTS & SPINE ASSOCIATES
7756 Northcross Drive, Suite 203
Austin, Texas 78757
Phone: (512) 358-0500
Fax: (512) 358-0520

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PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) is one of 24 medical specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Physiatry provides integrated care in the treatment of musculoskeletal and neurological disabilities, ranging from lower back pain to traumatic brain injury. PM&R has been an approved medical specialty since 1947. The ultimate goal of this medical specialty is to maximize the patient's functional abilities. Physiatrists often work with other physician specialties by coordinating the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation aspects of patient's care. This allows the patient to return as quickly and closely as possible to their pre- injury/disease level of function.

Physiatrists are first and foremost diagnosticians of a wide variety of neuromusculoskeletal problems. The physiatrist's diagnostic tools are the same as those used by other physicians, with the addition of special techniques in electrodiagnostic medicine (electromyography, nerve conduction studies and somatosensory evoked potentials). This latter form of testing assists the physiatrist in diagnosing a great variety of conditions that may cause pain, weakness, numbness or other types of abnormal sensation. Physiatrists are trained in the interpretation of radiographic imaging, including X-rays, MRIs, computed tomography and bone scan imaging.

Physiatrists are skilled in performing joint injections, muscle trigger point injections, neurolytic blocks (Botox / Myobloc), Reconstructive Injections (prolotherapy), peripheral nerve blocks and a variety of spinal interventional techniques. While the primary goal of these various injections is to control pain, inflammation or muscle spasm, many are also helpful in determining the appropriate diagnosis or pain generator. This is important to determine as specific a diagnosis and therefore treatment plan as possible. These injections may also allow the rehabilitation process to proceed in a more timely fashion.

Physiatrists are skilled in physical examination, manual medicine and soft tissue treatment techniques. They may refer to therapists or chiropractors as part of the treatment plan. Physiatrists do not perform surgery. With the exception of major trauma, the vast majority of injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones are not surgical problems. Neither are most sports injuries, occupational injuries or pain syndromes.

After diagnosis, Physiatrists offer a broad spectrum of medical services. They try to maximize function through conservative methods first. Physiatrists analyze the biomechanics of an individual's activities to make appropriate modifications to their lifestyle, or techniques of sports and work activities. They may prescribe medicines or assistive devices such as braces, orthotics or other durable medical equipment specific to the diagnosis. They may also prescribe physical, occupational or other forms of therapy in order to treat the problem that has been diagnosed. As described above, various types of injections may be utilized. Alternative medicine approaches such as acupuncture may also be incorporated into the overall treatment program.

The physiatrist’s holistic approach also addresses any psychological issues that may affect an individual's recovery. This psychological component is present with increasing frequency, the more chronic the injury. This component can magnify the experience of pain (through a biochemical process) and interfere with an individual’s progress. These factors are therefore treated aggressively. Physiatrists recruit the services of psychologists for possible counseling, stress management and/or biofeedback as well.

Last but not least, Physiatrists assess an individual's nutritional and fitness status as part of their complete approach. They will make suggestions for dietary changes and /or supplementation. It is well known that there is a positive impact of exercise on many health issues besides musculoskeletal problems. We will prescribe fitness programs based on each individual’s goals, medical and musculoskeletal factors, age and lifestyle needs. These may include, but are not limited to traditional weight training and various types of aerobic exercise, Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi.


This multifaceted approach will allow almost any condition to improve and remain better.

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