Expert Q&A: Role of Physiatrist with RA

Learn how a physiatrist can help improve life with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Question: What is a physiatrist, and how can a physiatrist help someone with rheumatoid arthritis?

Answer: A physiatrist — also referred to as a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician — is an MD who specializes in restoring function and mobility through non-operative treatments. This can be important for a person with rheumatoid arthritis if pain, stiffness and joint deformity have made it difficult to perform daily activities. While rheumatologists treat RA medically, physiatrists offer advice on adjunct therapies, including diet and the use of medicinal foods such as curcumin that can minimize inflammation, leading to less pain and more mobility. Physiatrists also guide patients in rehabilitation programs, such as aquatic therapy, and specific types of therapeutic exercises designed to regain strength while minimizing risk of causing further joint inflammation.

Vijay Vad, MD

Physiatrist, Hospital for Special Surgery

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