Opened in 2001, the Augusta Pain Center is staff by a team of experienced Interventional Pain Management Physicians – led by Richard S. Epter, M.D., Medical Director – who has more than 30 years of experience helping patients find relief from chronic pain such as headache, back pain and neck pain. He is joined by William S. Schiff, PsyD. whose experience in Behavioral Health Management has served chronic pain patients in the Evans and Augusta area for over 15 years.
At the Augusta Pain Center, extra emphasis is placed on identifying the underlying cause of a patient’s pain. By determining the pain generator responsible for symptoms, a treatment plan can be identified to treat the manifestation of the disease process that is causing the patient’s pain.
“As an interventional pain management specialist, I seek to identify the cause of the patient’s pain so that we can eliminate it or control it with as minimal medication usage as possible,” says Dr. Epter. “This is especially important when patients have been taking narcotics for pain management. Narcotics carry many risks, and there has been increased regulation regarding narcotic use in recent years. Tens of thousands of narcotic-related deaths occur each year due to patients taking prescriptions both legally and illegally. Therefore, identifying the cause of a patient’s pain and utilizing a specific treatment plan designed for each patient’s individual pain generator can help improve a patient’s function, decrease his or her pain and optimize quality of life.”
To best achieve this, each patient undergoes a comprehensive evaluation at his or her initial appointment. The evaluation includes a physical examination and medical history in correlation with physiologic and radiologic studies. This comprehensive assessment helps physicians identify a patient’s pain generator and develop an individualized treatment plan.
A combination of therapies is generally necessary to help patients optimize their functioning. Often, this combination involves physical therapy, aquatic therapy, interventional procedures, behavioral therapy and medication.
“Treatment plans often involve the use of multiple pain relief modalities,” says Dr. Epter. “This comprehensive approach provides patients with the optimal outcome of achieving pain relief and regaining function.”
Interventional pain procedures that may be performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes include epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, sympathetic nerve procedures, radiofrequency lesioning, lysis of epidural adhesions, intradiscal procedures, spinal cord stimulation and procedures used to relieve sacroiliac joint pain, facial pain, pain of the hip, knee or shoulder, and pain associated with shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.
All services are delivered in the Augusta Pain Center’s new state-of-the-art facility located in the Epicenter Building, which opened in March 2010. This facility features the pain center where patients are evaluated and examined, a Joint Commission-accredited surgery center where fluoroscopic-guided interventional procedures are performed and a center for aquatic therapy that is delivered by a staff of accredited aquatic therapists.
“This facility has been designed specifically for the chronic pain patient,” says Dr. Epter. “We have a committed staff that was chosen for their experience and empathy towards patients experiencing chronic pain, and we strive to provide patients with modalities that will optimize their functioning and return to daily activities pain free.”