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Ohio Valley Hospital Pain Treatment Center: Offering Freedom from Pain
by Kevin Brown

Pain afflicts at least 100 million Americans. According to a 2012 study from the National Institutes of Health, more than 25 million Americans in a three month span suffered from pain every day; as many as 40 million Americans experienced what they considered to be severe levels of pain. David M. DeChellis, D.O., believes these numbers aren’t surprising.

“Approximately 85 percent of people will have low back pain at one time in their life. It’s actually the second most common reason to visit a physician other than a virus or the common cold,” he explains.”

The sheer number of people who experience pain is one reason why Dr. DeChellis has made a big effort in the search for solutions to pain relief. That’s why he and other physicians and staff at the Ohio Valley Hospital Pain Treatment Center are leading the way in an effort to help patients overcome this debilitating and often chronic condition.

As the co-director of the OVH Pain Treatment Center, Dr. DeChellis recently introduced a new, wireless pain relief procedure only available in his office. The Freedom Spinal Cord Stimulator from StimWave Technologies is a minimally invasive device that blocks pain signals from affected areas of the body.

“We started using (the device) in January. It was approved in the United States two years ago. Ohio Valley Hospital is the only hospital in Pennsylvania that has access to the device,” he says.

According to Dr. DeChellis, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) itself has been around for 30 years. What makes this new technology different is that it is a less invasive, wireless system.

“We’re able to place a very small electronic device directly onto the spine using an image-guided needle. The patient-controlled electronic device stimulates the pain signals in a very similar way as a cardiac pacemaker would so the heart can beat appropriately. The stimulator allows the body to decrease the amount of pain signals reaching the brain,” Dr. DeChellis explains.

“It’s used for a variety of conditions, including pain that occurs after surgery is performed, such as back or neck surgery. It’s also used for radiculopathy and sciatica, as well as pain after hernia surgery, chronic shoulder pain, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.” he adds.

As for why the implant is placed at the spinal cord, Dr. DeChellis says, “Pain is a perception. Each patient describes it as a different quality or severity even if they have had the same injury. It starts at the site of injury, goes into smaller nerves, then to the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, it’s sent to the brain. This is where you get the sensation of pain,” he says.

The SCS procedure is not the first time the OVH Pain Treatment Center has been at the forefront of medical technology. Another newer pain relief technology they utilize is called Coolief Radio-Frequency Ablation, which focuses on specific knee pain.

“My partner and I were among the first physicians in Pittsburgh to use the technology,” Dr. DeChellis says, “It is often used for people who have had knee surgery who still have pain and patients who have been considered non-surgical candidates. It’s very effective and it’s used essentially to reduce the pain signals coming from the knee.”

The OVH Pain Treatment Center is directed by Ankur R. Gosalia, M.D. and Dr. DeChellis. Their courses of treatment include programs for a host of other pain conditions, such as neck pain, herniated or bulging discs, pinched nerves, musculoskeletal and joint pain, arthritis pain, headaches, and sports and motor vehicle injuries.

“Having a Pain Treatment team brings another dynamic to the hospital,” says Dr. DeChellis. “An internal pain management team allows all patients in the hospital to have an opportunity to, number one, see a specialist who can diagnose them appropriately and, number two, give them options in terms of conservative care outside of surgery.”

It is very important to Dr. DeChellis and Dr. Gosalia that they find new and innovative ways to treat patients in pain. The misuse of pain medication, particularly opioids, is a national health concern of epidemic proportion. Although pain medication is one way to control pain, there are other, more effective ways to control pain for many patients.

“As more guidelines come from the government and more studies are done on the medications, we better understand the role they have, which is much less of a role in pain management than what was thought years ago. You’re starting to see more physicians use them less in favor of alternative treatments,” Dr. DeChellis believes.

He adds, “Pain itself is a very complex process. You need a specialist who truly focuses on those processes, understands the treatment options and is able to perform and deliver (them). Without that ability, you are limiting the success of pain improvement, and I think that is the key.”

The OVH Pain Treatment Center offers a comprehensive, multi-modality, or therapy, approach to help patients find relief from pain. Treatment options are customized to patients’ needs and may include exercise and physical therapy; image-guided diagnostic and therapeutic injections; minimally-invasive interventions; chiropractic care, along with acupuncture and massage therapy, among others.

The center uses a pain management team approach. According to Dr. DeChellis, a pain management team typically incorporates many specialties. “A pain physician, who is board-certified and fellowship-trained, is essentially the leader of the team. That physician works very closely with nurses who are specialized in pain management, physical therapists and, quite often, surgeons including neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.”

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