Center for Musculoskeletal Care expands non-surgical treatment options with physiatrists


Vivian Shih, MD, is one of the physiatrists at the Center for Musculoskeletal Care.


Physiatrists are central to the patient care model at Yale New Haven Health’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care (CMC), which enables many people with bone, joint, muscle and nerve problems to get better without surgery.

Physiatrists are physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They complete advanced training in the prevention, diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions, including arthritis, tendinitis, muscle sprains, back and neck pain, and balance and walking problems. They prescribe non-surgical treatments such as medications, injections of the joints/soft tissues and spine, physical therapy and adaptive equipment such as braces or orthotics.

A physiatrist may be the first physician a new CMC patient sees if he or she is experiencing symptoms such as joint or back pain, weakness, numbness or frequent headaches. The physiatrist performs a detailed medical assessment and diagnostic testing and consults with other specialists in neurology, rheumatology or orthopedics to determine the care plan for each patient. CMC’s multidisciplinary team may also include physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionists and social workers.

At CMC, practical, non-surgical treatment options will always be offered first. Physiatrists are skilled in innovative treatments such as image-guided joint and spine injections and platelet-rich plasma therapy that uses a patient’s own blood platelets to speed healing. These procedures are easily performed in the office setting. When indicated, physiatrists facilitate a quick referral for specialized treatment or surgery. The physiatrist remains part of the team, overseeing pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation.

The CMC has several locations, all offering diagnostic imaging and rehabilitation. A new musculoskeletal ambulatory surgery center is scheduled to open at YNHH’s Saint Raphael Campus in early 2018.

The new North Haven CMC offers priority access for YNHHS employees, including same-day or next-day appointments with a physiatrist. With the YNHHS 2018 benefits plan, health system employees and their covered dependents will pay lower co-pays for certain musculoskeletal diagnostic imaging procedures and treatments, including joint replacement at the CMC and other YNHHS facilities.

CMC hours in North Haven Medical Center are Mon., 8 am - 8 pm and Tue. – Fri., 8 am - 5 pm. Physician referral is not required. For information or an appointment, call 203-688-9262.

Other CMC locations include:

  • Old Saybrook Medical Center, 633 Middlesex Turnpike: 860-388-8300
  • Long Ridge Medical Center, 260 Long Ridge Road, Stamford: 866-470-9253
  • North Haven Medical Center, 6 Devine St.: 203-688-9262
  • YNHH Spine Center, 1 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven: 203-688-8800