July 21, 2021
Meet Chi-Tsai Tang, MD
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist
Dr. Tang specializes in the nonoperative treatment of all musculoskeletal injuries. He is also widely known for his clinical expertise in medical acupuncture, with extensive training in this technique from the US and China.
Where are you from? Is there anything unique about your hometown?
I was born in Taiwan, but moved to the United States when I was in kindergarten. I then moved back to Taiwan for middle school and part of high school. Taiwan is a tropical island off the coast of China. It is known for its beautiful natural scenery, delicious food and large production of computer chips.
What made you choose orthopedics as a specialty?
I chose physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) as a specialty because of the breadth of practice. It offers the opportunity to take care of people across all ages, and also allows opportunities to do procedures (injections, electrodiagnostics) in addition to seeing patients in clinic. I also like PM&R because it is not algorithmic and requires practitioners to be creative in finding solutions for patients’ conditions.
What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?
I came to Washington University School of Medicine in 2009 to do a sports medicine fellowship and had the opportunity to be hired on as faculty afterwards.
What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?
I find acupuncture the most interesting and rewarding part of my practice. It allows me to use an alternative perspective to view patients’ complaints so that I can help people who often continue to struggle, despite seeing multiple other medical providers.
Have you always incorporated acupuncture in your practice? If not, how did that come to be?
I took an acupuncture for physicians course in 2008 when I was still a resident, and have been using acupuncture ever since.
Where did you train for acupuncture?
The course I took is called the Helms Medical Institute course and is the largest acupuncture course in the United States geared towards physicians. I then had further training starting in 2015 when I made several trips to China to learn a different type of acupuncture called structure-based medical acupuncture.
Is there anything new on the horizon in physiatry patient care?
My practice and research focuses on acupuncture and how to best incorporate it into a Western medicine practice. I have a study that looks at using a technique called "one needle hand acupuncture," which can be used to treat musculoskeletal pain in various body parts.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I received in regards to patient care was from Dr. Prather, who said that if in doubt about what to do for a patient, bring them back in for a re-evaluation. More often than not, if you see a patient more than once, you can figure out a way that to help them. Plus, it’s just good patient care.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I enjoy playing tennis and hiking at scenic locations.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you like to be doing for work?
My dream job when I was younger was to be a professional tennis player. However more realistically, I would probably be an engineer since that is what my undergraduate degree is in.
Dr. Tang treats patients at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital and the Washington University Barnes-Jewish Orthopedic Center in Chesterfield. Learn more about Dr. Tang, and why patients choose Washington University Orthopedics.