GREENVILLE — When you’re in pain, what you want most, sometimes all you want, is for that pain to stop. The problem is, what works for one individual might not work for another. Recent research shows that certain genetic markers can help pinpoint which medications will work for each patient, and which will not.
Primary care physicians often have neither the time nor expertise to make these calls. That’s where Michigan Pain Consultants (MPC) come in.
Staffed with experts in several different pain-related disciplines, the clinic offers a wide variety of pain-relief solutions.
According to Lisa Pullum, DO, an interventionist pain management physician and director of the South Greenville Road facility, the clinic receives many of its patients through referrals from primary care physicians and other health care centers. In order to strengthen that cooperative arrangement, the clinic recently held an open house and invited most of the local medical community.
Pullum explained that Michigan Pain Consultants is dedicated to treating not just pain, but the psychological problems that often accompany it.
“Pain often causes depression and anxiety,” Pullum said. “If you wake up every day and know that every day from the rest of your life you’re going to have pain every time you open your eyes, that’s a chronic pain patient.”
The psychological impact can be especially hard on those who, until recently, have been fairly healthy.
“We get patients who have never been sick, never been to the hospital and never had to go to the doctor for anything,” Pullum said. “All of a sudden — after all this time thinking they could do anything and everything — they get pain. We try to help them cope with the reality that this may be who they are for the rest of their lives, which can be pretty dark.”
To alleviate this depression, the clinic employs what Pullum calls “multi-modalities” in treating pain. These include medication, psychological services and high tech procedures like radio frequency rhizotomy and spinal cord stimulation (SCS).
To provide the latest in SCS services, the clinic has partnered with Boston Scientific, which provides expertise and equipment to perform the procedure. That procedure involves electrically stimulating, with great precision, certain portions of the spine in order to relieve pain. According to clinical specialist Kyle Rasche and territory manager Eric Shelton, both of Boston Scientific, the procedure has produced stunning results in patients who may not be responding to pharmacological treatments.
To help ensure patients who do take drugs to deal with pain get exactly what they need, the clinic also offers genetic testing.
According to Chuck Bray, PA-C, genetic testing can make all the difference when it comes to prescribing the right medication to a pain patient.
“Different people metabolize drugs differently,” Bray explained. “Some people can get by with maybe on Vicodin while someone else can take a whole handful of them and it will have almost no effect. What we have now is a tool to test patients to see how well they metabolize medications.”
That test includes taking a swab of the inside of the mouth and sending it to a lab for genetic testing. The results, which are returned in about a week, help physicians prescribe the exact right medication for each patient.
The clinic has been operating in Greenville for the past 17 years, but administrators there are hoping the recent open house will help build even stronger relations with area physicians and health care providers.