If you find the right physical medicine and rehabilitation (which you’ll most commonly see abbreviated as PM&R) doc (they are also called “physiatrists”), your back will be in excellent hands. Look for a physiatrist who has done a fellowship in spine medicine. This site lists programs that offer PM&R fellowships, so that’s a first step toward finding a good resource. Physiatrists are MDs and DOs (doctors of osteopathic medicine) who specialize in working with patients with nerve, muscle, bone, and neurological conditions. They are talented diagnosticians, skilled in discerning the source of your problem and also familiar with biomechanics and exercise physiology. If someone claims to be an “interventional physiatrist,” it means that he or she focuses on giving injections. That’s a signal that you are in the wrong place, so look some more.
Click here for the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s patient page.
For spine specifics, check here.
The doctor search function is here.
It can be quite difficult to find a PM&R doc who really focuses on the rehabilitation part, rather than the “let’s give some shots and make some money” part. Doctors who work for university hospital systems are not as compelled to perform income-producing procedures as their self-employed brethren. A phone call or email to The Association of Academic Physiatrists on this list should yield someone good.