A new trend in pain management is taking a holistic look at the patient with the option of trying a broad array of non-surgical techniques. Meet Dr. Douglas Allen, a dual board certified doctor in both physical medicine and rehabilitation and interventional pain management whose New York Pain Medicine and Physical Therapy practice houses physical therapy, acupuncture and traditional pain management treatment options. Dr. Allen’s practice is one of the first in New York City to be certified to register patients with certain illnesses for the medical use of marijuana. Salonpas sat down with Dr. Allen to discuss why traditional medicine is increasingly adopting non-traditional treatment options:
What types of conditions do patients come to your office to be treated for?
We evaluate and provide treatment for a wide range of conditions including back pain, orthopedic conditions, post-surgical rehabilitation, sciatica, herniated discs, annular tears, spinal stenosis, facet arthropathy, sacroiliac joint pain, failed back surgery syndrome, whiplash injuries, compression fractures, cancer pain, herpes zoster pain, complex regional pain syndrome, headaches and migraines and general joint pain.
Is opiate addiction more and more of a problem with the general patient population?
I’ve been treating opiate addiction for over ten years. Opiate management treatments allow those who suffer with addiction to lead normal lives. My office provides the full spectrum of treatment including: weaning people off of current prescription medication, buprenorphine (Suboxone) therapy, mental health services on premise and pain management modalities including physical therapy in the office. Successful treatment programs require a comprehensive approach.
In my experience, buprenorphine treatment has been the most successful opiate based medication to curb addiction.
Do you see a growing trend of patients who over-medicate with OTC pain medication such as acetaminophen or oral NSAIDs? What is the danger of this?
Yes, OTC acetaminophen and oral NSAIDs are not benign medications. Acetaminophen, while considered one of the safest medications, does have a ceiling dose of 3 grams to limit the potential of liver toxicity. NSAIDs greatest risk, increased gastro-intestinal bleeding by limiting the production of the base stomach lining. Increased risk is seen with higher milligram dosages and length of time consuming.
What is your opinion about topical OTC pain therapy?
Many OTC medications have effective active ingredients. Unfortunately, with the many options available to consumers, understanding their mechanisms is important for success of therapy. We forget, a great percentage of our pharmaceutical medications including OTC options are derived from natural plant extracts. Therefore, many of the OTC pain relievers can be highly effective.
What role do you see medical marijuana playing in pain reduction?
New York Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on July 5th 2014 which allows patients who suffer from designated serious conditions, who also have a condition clinically associated with, or a complication of, the serious condition to be certified by their physicians to receive medical marijuana for medical use. As a pain practitioner, I’ve found that marijuana can be used an effective complimentary treatment for many painful conditions.