Frequently asked questions
Q. How long does the first appointment last?
A. First appointments generally last about an hour. If we need to take x-rays, the total visit time can be an hour and a half.
Q. What does the doctor do for the first appointment?
A. The doctor will review all your history and any available medical records from other doctors. You will be asked questions and examined by the doctor. A plan of care will be established between the doctor and patient. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled at check-out because it is important for us to monitor your plan of care and make adjustments when necessary.
Q. Why do I need to arrive 30 minutes prior to my first appointment with the doctor?
A. For a first time patient, we need to take care of some administrative tasks, such as making a copy of photo identification and insurance cards. The process of accurately recording your health history does take some time, initially.
Q. Why is there so much paperwork?
A. Our specialty can be very complex, and in many cases patients have seen a number of doctors related to their back or neck trouble. In order for the doctor to provide you with the best care, he requests as many records as possible from prior doctors seen. In addition, the information collected from paperwork filled out in advance assists the doctor in focusing your first visit and making it as productive as possible for you.
Q. What kind of insurance do you take?
A. We accept most insurance plans. Your insurance plan will dictate if you need a referral to see a specialist.
Q. What is an EMG?
A. The EMG is a diagnostic test studying nerve and muscle disorders by recording electrical activity of muscles with an electromyography machine. The nerve conduction study (NCS) measures the rate at which the electrical impulse moves along the nerve. The tests are used to detect muscle disorders, neuromuscular abnormalities, generalized nerve problems, as well as pinching of the nerve in the neck or back. This test can also diagnose a problem in the median nerve at the wrist, otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are generally two parts to the test. The first part includes electrical stimulation (shock) which is applied to the nerves. The sensation is brief and somewhat uncomfortable. The other part involves a very thin needle electrode that is inserted into muscles to listen to and record the muscle activity.
The procedure is normally tolerated without side effects. Occasionally, patients feel areas of soreness or bruising at the needle sites. This can be relieved with gentle icing to the area or a cool cloth. The soreness should go away within a day or two. Medical attention should be sought if this does not improve.
The test takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes. A full report of the results will be sent to your referring physician. Print this information >>
Q. All our physicians are physiatrists. What is a physiatrist?
A. A physiatrist is a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Physiatrists, or rehabilitation physicians, are medical doctors who are:
- Experts at diagnosing and treating pain
- Restore maximum function lost through injury, illness or disabling conditions
- Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
- Lead a team of medical professionals
- Provide non-surgical treatments
- Explain your medical problems and treatment plan
- Work not only on treatment, but also prevention
Rehabilitation physicians are nerve, muscle and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. Rehabilitation physicians have completed training in the medical specialty physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R).
Rehabilitation physicians treat a wide range of problems from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. Their goal is to decrease pain and enhance performance without surgery. Rehabilitation physicians take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of an ailment. They then design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. This medical team might include other physicians and health professionals, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, rehabilitation physicians help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime. From www.aapmr.org/patients/aboutpmr/Pages/physiatrist.aspx
Q. What’s the difference between a chiropractor and a physiatrist?
A. Chiropractors do not go to medical school and accordingly they have a limited scope of practice. They generally have three to four years of training after college, although a college degree is not required in most states. They do not go through an internship or residency and cannot perform surgery, diagnose general medical disorders, perform injections, or prescribe medicines. Physiatrists are medical doctors with eight years of training after college. Chiropractors do serve a role of providing symptomatic relief for certain kinds of back pain. They do not have the broad scope of practice that is often required to diagnose and treat spinal disorders.
Q. Are our physicians surgeons?
A. No. Although our physicians are not surgeons, the Community Spine Center offers surgical services when needed. Fortunately, most patients with spinal pain do not require surgery. We collaborate with over a dozen highly-trained spine surgeons who are readily available.
Q. What is physical medicine?
A. Physical medicine is a specialty of medicine. Those who practice it are called physiatrists or PM&R doctors. See above description for more details.