The difference between what I do, and a pain management setting is that my goal is always to get rid of the pain. Very often in pain management the goal is to manage the pain; to make the pain go to a a level where the patient can function.
That is really one of the most rewarding things about this field of surgery. I love watching these patients’ progress.
Some patients are simple and have a simple problem and other patients are very complex. My patients fall into two categories. One where there’s a typical operation that you may do many times because there’s many patients with the same problem. The second category involves patients with a unique problem that may even require a sort of surgery to be developed to treat them. When these patients come in to see you, you can sort of see this burden of pain that they carry, and I refer to it as the pain mask. Once you’re able to help these patients at the end of the process they look like a different person because that pain burden has been lifted.
In terms of personal satisfaction that’s absolutely the thing that is the most rewarding for me. Most patients who come to see me are as bad as they can be and almost always the only thing I can do is help. I can’t help everybody and not everybody has a peripheral nerve problem. The type of surgery I do is not a silver bullet for every type of chronic pain. But for patients who have a peripheral nerve problem it’s really the only solution that that’s out there that can really give them excellent relief of their pain.