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With the addition of our newest team member, Dr. Joseph Mejia, D.O., I’m sure a lot of our patients are going to have questions about this type of medical care. I’ve put together a few of the most common questions we’re being asked, and I thought I’d answer some of them on this blog.

What is a Physiatrist?

Our new Medical Director is a Physiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. This type of doctor focuses on the non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and is concerned with using the most conservative and minimally invasive practices and procedures in the pain management and rehabilitation process. In many cases, his objective is to help patients relieve pain and increase functioning without the use of unnecessary surgeries or excessive medication.

With this goal in mind, our Physiatrist makes diagnoses and works closely with our staff of physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists to create pain management and rehab strategies. For example, he may treat back pain with a program that involves several of these practices, as well as procedures such as Epidural Steroid Injections or Joint Injections (more on these below). In other words, he basically acts as the coordinator of treatment programs for conditions such as sciatica, disc problems, and arthritis. (Click here to see the full list of conditions treated with Medical care at our facility.)

What makes Physiatrists different from other doctors?

During the rehabilitation process, PM&R Doctors care for patients’ physical impairments as well the associated emotional challenges. This is an important distinction: Physiatrists treat the patient as a whole, helping with physical, emotional, and social needs during the process of rehabilitation. In some cases, our Physiatrist will help patients learn to use assistive devices (braces, wheelchairs, etc.) and deal with the psychological impact of such lifestyle changes.

I have always worked to create a warm, open environment where patients feel comfortable to talk to our practitioners about their concerns and the emotional aspects of physical rehabilitation. Toward this end, I have gathered a team that is friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely empathetic; Dr. Mejia is no exception.

What type of procedures do Physiatrists use?

At Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation Center, we offer a number of non-invasive, healthy rehabilitative options to our patients—including physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage. Unfortunately, pain can sometimes interrupt this process. When this happens, our Physiatrist has a number of minimally invasive procedures to help patients find relief from pain. Some of these might include:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections: These are sometimes used to treat inflammation associated with a number of conditions, including sciatica, lower back pain, herniated or bulging discs, abnormal alignment of the vertebrae, and arthritis (among others). With the injection of a long-lasting steroid in the Epidural space (the area that surrounds the spinal sac and provides cushioning for the nerves), Epidural Steroid Injections can reduce inflammation that is causing pressure on the nerves.
  • Trigger Point Injections: This treatment involves the injection of a local anesthetic medication and/or cortisone into trigger points—areas of intense muscle spasm (also known as Myofascial pain).
  • Facet Joint Injections: Injections of a long-lasting steroid (cortisone) are administered in the facet joints, which are located between the vertebrae of each spinal segment. The purpose of this type of injection is to treat pain and inflammation in the joints.

Dr. Mejia might also recommend and perform Sacroiliac Joint Injections, Coccyx Injections, or Sympathetic Blocks (Visit our Web site to learn more about these).

If you are suffering from sciatica, disc problems, arthritis, low back pain, neck pain, etc., do not hesitate to contact our Monmouth County pain management and rehabilitation facility to learn more about how multi-disciplinary care can help.