Physiatrists are experts in diagnosing and treating pain, specializing in the non-surgical management of disease and disease symptoms. Treatment is often based around physical therapies and use of medication including oral medications and injections. Physiatry is also the only medical specialty that requires training in electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction studies for the evaluation of neurologic disorders.

See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief

What Physiatrists Treat

Physiatrists are physicians trained in the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation. They are able to treat a wide variety of injuries and diseases that affect the physical functioning of the body, from sore hips and knees to complex spinal cord injuries.

When to See a Physiatrist for Arthritis

Physiatrists aim to reduce pain and improve mobility using non-surgical means. With specialized technology used to pinpoint the cause of pain, physiatrists are able to diagnose patients as well as develop appropriate treatment plans for maximum benefit. Some physiatrists have broad-based practices that treat a variety of diseases and symptoms while others take particular interest in specific problems such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

See Doctors Who Treat Fibromyalgia


Training to Become a Physiatrist

Physiatrists must complete four years of medical school followed by a four-year physical medicine and rehabilitation residency. In addition, many physiatrists choose to complete advanced degrees or fellowship training in the treatment of a specific condition. Examples of fellowship training include musculoskeletal rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and sports medicine.


To complete board certification, physiatrists are required to pass both a written and oral examination. Board certified physicians participate in ongoing education to stay up to date with advancing medical technologies and to ensure they are providing the highest quality care to their patients.

Dr. Marshall Emig is a physiatrist practicing at the UCHealth Spine Center, where he specializes in treating spine, joint, and sports-related pain. Dr. Emig has written several articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and he serves as an Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado.