Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist – Know the Difference from Experts

A lot of people assume that physiatrist and physical therapists are the same and there are no differences at all. But here let me tell you the truth, both physical therapists and physiatrists differ when it comes to their education, their roles, and diagnostics. Although both these doctors treat the patients with the same types of conditions, there are notable differences between them. To help you understand how exactly they differ, here is a blog on Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist.

Physiatrist vs Physical Therapist

Let’s go through the brief information about physical therapists and physiatrist before discussing their differences.


Physiatrists are physicians having the knowledge and skills for diagnosis, treating as well as managing the debilitating conditions affecting the spinal cord, brain, bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. Their primary role is directing the rehabilitation and recovery for the patients. 

Are Physiatrists Real Doctors?

Are Physiatrists Real Doctors

Yes, physiatrists are considered as doctors.

A physiatrist attends a medical college and is a licensed medical doctor specializing in physical medicine, pain medicine, and rehabilitation. Their primary areas of work are on the musculoskeletal system They help in curing the patient’s illness by planning the treatment and helping them with managing the pain as well. 

A physiatrist is an expert in the medical team as they help in managing and leading physical therapists, dieticians, nurses, and other medical experts. The physiatrists do not perform surgery but come up with a diagnosis and treatment that help the doctors to do the needed procedures. They also aid people having chronic pain, sports injuries, arthritis, and others. They are also referred to as physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians as they help in reducing the pain and also helps in improving the functionality of the concerned areas.

Physical Therapist:

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are licensed professionals acquiring the degree and skills for treating the people suffering from any physical illness or injury. They help the patients to regain their functionality by exercise, ultrasound devices, manual therapy, mechanical traction, and other ways. A person suffering from joint pain or neck sprain is usually suggested to seek help from physical therapists as they help in treating them in the right direction. 

Apart from the illness and injuries, the therapists also help people suffering from limb dysfunctionality or have issues in walking with prosthetic legs. A patient visiting a therapist can expect a gradual recovery for strength and balance. People all over the world consult a physical therapist for helping them with pain or disabilities.

Difference Between Physiatrist and Physical Therapist

PhysiatristPhysical Therapist
Physiatrists are licensed medical physicians who complete their graduation at a medical school along with an internship.Physical therapists have an education in physical therapy which is a three-year post-graduate course. They also have to undertake training after the completion of the studies.
The physiatrists help with patient’s medical issues by participating in their rehabilitation process.Physical therapists help the patients to improve the function by providing them physical therapy and helping them do certain exercises for the treatment.
A patient suffering from medical conditions has to first consult a physiatrist for getting a diagnosis.A patient has to visit a physical therapist after he/she has gotten a diagnosis from the physiatrist.
Apart from diagnosis and prescribing some treatments, they can also help with pain management.A physical therapist has all the equipment that can help in putting the treatment plan in action.
The major role of a physiatrist is to manage therapies and assist them with medical issues.Physical therapists work with patients to regain their mobility and strength.

Concluding Remarks

It is usual to get confused between both these terms and have the misconceptions. But to put it all together, a physiatrist helps in diagnosing the underlying medical condition as well as coming with a treatment plan. In contrast, physical therapists provide patients with the recommended treatments. The joint efforts of both these doctors are required to cure the illness and help the patient. Generally, your visit to a physiatrist is quite limited as compared to the physical therapist. The therapists work closely with the patients to help them recover and physiatrists can help the patients for managing pain and rehabilitation.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button