"Medications just cover gaps between pain blocks and other pain therapies..."
Sam Morkos, M.D., Anesthesiologist and Specialist in Pain Management
"Describing pain is difficult for many patients," says Dr. Sam Morkos. "Unless it’s something acute, patients have had pain for some time, and it has become a part of who they are. Except now, the pain is so intense, they can no longer ignore it.
"I do not rely on opiates, except for acute pain and cancer pain. I rely on pain blocks and injections. If it’s an acute case, my goal is to get them off opiates within one-two weeks, and back to regular function. With a cancer patient, opiates may be our best option for relief and management.
"I think pain blocks are the way to go. If a patient comes in and tells me he or she can’t sit for two minutes, and I do a pain block, and they report that now they can sit for two hours...that’s improvement. Even if a patient comes in with a certain diagnosis, you have to be certain to choose an appropriate pain management plan.
"You have to have a sensitivity that each person’s pain is unique. What might be five and severe for one person, might be a "10" for another person. Sometimes people are afraid to say they’re getting better because they’re afraid you’ll take away their pain medication, So, patient and I have to bond. We have to trust each other for healing to occur.
"My goal with patients is to interrupt the cycle of pain. Sixty percent of our spine procedures are facet blocks, epidural injections for radiopathy, or to calm trigger points in the cervical, lumbar and thoracic areas of the spine.
"I’m very interested in electronic cord stimulation, so we can specifically target pain spots and let the patient manage their pain. Pain is not black and white. We may be in the middle of two or three diagnoses, and we have to make sure our treatment plan is appropriate for each patient.
"One day I came in and a nurse handed me a note from one of our patients, addressed to me. It started with: ‘I can’t thank you enough’...that made my day because this patient never thought she’d be able to move again."