Pain Center nurse practitioner advocates for non-opioid alternatives

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Published on February 19, 2022 at 10:48 am

By Mike PettinellaGCASA Publicist

BATAVIA — Opioids for pain management are no longer standard care for chronic pain, according to a board-certified family nurse practitioner at the United Memorial Medical Center Pain Management Center in Batavia.

Rebecca Russo

“We don’t avoid prescription drugs, but we work to avoid managing opioids, which can decrease the perception of pain and not its cause,” said Rebecca Russo, answering questions about non-opioid alternatives for the GOW Opioid Task. To obligate.

Russo, an employee of the UMMC Pain Clinic since August 2020, said that as a pain management nurse practitioner, she recommends minimally invasive fluoroscopic procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of pain.

“We work with the patient’s primary care physician and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for these patients,” she said. “We also like to be as conservative as possible (using) non-invasive measures such as physiotherapy, aquatherapy, chiropractic and massage, and acupuncture.”

When it comes to opioids, Russo is well aware of the long-term effects — including addiction — that can result from prolonged use of these drugs.

“There are so many alternatives to a pain management specialist treating chronic pain that may provide the most benefit to these patients,” she said. “A multimodal approach to management is best for treating chronic pain. Opioids are no longer used for chronic non-malignant pain, studies have shown.

Russo said she moved into the pain management field when a colleague recommended her for a position in pain management and neurology.

“I have to say I couldn’t have had a better fit in my career. This specialty is fascinating and rich in ways to help patients, which I lay my foundation on,” said the Michigan native. “I have worked in the field of pain management since graduating with my Masters in Nursing four years ago.”

Prior to joining the UMMC program, she was a registered nurse for six years, working in various units including intermediate care, medical/surgical, observational and progressive care.

She said the local pain clinic treats a wide range of chronic and acute pain, such as neck pain, cancer pain, myofascial pain, joint pain, back pain, phantom limb pain, bursitis, sciatica, postherpetic pain and complex regional pain. syndrome, peripheral neuropathy and failed back surgery syndrome.

“Some of the micro-invasive procedures that can be performed at the UMMC Pain Clinic include nerve blocks in various areas as well as radiofrequency ablations; lumbar, thoracic and cervical epidural injections of steroids; trigger point injections; and implantation of a spinal cord stimulator,” she said.

The practice is growing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, she reported, with more in-person visits scheduled.

“At this time, we are working to maintain our in-person visits, but we can arrange telemedicine visits when a patient cannot be seen in person. This may be due to a variety of reasons, such as illness, inability to drive or last-minute changes to patient schedules,” she explained.

Russo sees the pain clinic as a viable alternative for people with chronic pain, adding that the patient is seen as “an important member of the team.”

“Interventional management is beneficial for patients when their pain persists even after trying conservative treatments or don’t have a diagnosis for their pain,” she said. “A good diagnosis is the first step to successful treatment.

“Another benefit for these patients is that they wish to avoid surgery if possible or if they have had surgery but are still experiencing pain, we can offer them alternatives to further surgery unless otherwise specified. “

The UMMC Pain Center is located in Batavia at 229 Summit St., Suite 4. For more information, call 585-815-6710.

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