Should you see a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital? | Health

The road to recovery from a stroke, brain injury or orthopedic injury can be difficult — and it’s different for everyone. The goal of physiatry, or physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), is to guide you through recovery and help restore function so you can live your best life.

Restore function

Joseph Elias, MD, PM&R specialist at Houston Methodist Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Associates in Sugar Land, focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disabilities related to musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. Patients may be referred to a PM&R specialist for spinal pain, joint pain, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.

PM&R doctors, also called physiatrists, help restore function and get you back to work and home. “We use non-surgical treatments and therapies to help reduce pain, improve mobility, increase range of motion, and regain strength in your daily life,” Elias explained.

A team approach

A physical exam is one of the most important tools in physiatry, and in some cases imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, may also be needed. “When nerve damage is suspected, we can perform an EMG/NCS (electromyogram/nerve conduction study) test to confirm where the nerve damage is and how severe it is,” Elias added.

It is important to understand the underlying causes of the symptoms so that they can be treated by your physiatrist and other specialists. Depending on your situation, you can consult other specialists in interventional management of the spine, in neurology, in orthopedic surgery or in neurosurgery. “Communication with all doctors, therapists and team members involved in your care is key to success,” Elias said.

PM&R treatments

Your physiatrist can create a treatment plan that addresses your specific concerns. “Sometimes you may be in so much pain that you need acute pain relief before you can tolerate physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT). In such cases, we may prescribe oral or topical medications non-narcotics or perform an injection, such as a steroid injection or a trigger point injection, before starting treatment,” Elias added.

PM&R offers a range of treatments that support rehabilitation and recovery, including:

  • Electromyography/nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS)
  • Neurological injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke and brain injury
  • Spasticity Management
  • Botulinum toxin injections (Botox®)
  • Spinal and musculoskeletal injuries
  • Back and neck
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Shoulder, hip and knee
  • Ultrasound-guided peripheral joint injections

Support you

Sometimes the most significant progress is measured by performing daily tasks. “For example, your goal might be to be able to access your upper cabinets after a shoulder injury or to be able to pick up your grandchild after a back injury. If you’ve had a stroke or other neurological injury, your goal might be to cook a meal for yourself or go back to work in a wheelchair,” Elias said.

Experiencing a musculoskeletal or neurological injury can be life changing. “After you return from hospital, you may need additional support to help you get back to your real life. Access to outpatient PM&R provides a link to the care you need to improve function. and access equipment to facilitate mobility and daily tasks,” Elias said.

Learn more

To make an appointment with Dr. Elias at Houston Methodist Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Associates in Sugar Land, visit or call 281-729-0076.

Dr. Joseph Elias, PM&R specialist