How to Live a Pain-Free Life Thanks to Premier Pain Centers

The following is a republishing of the article on Premier Pain’s Michael O’Hara, DO that is featured in the September-October 2013 Ocean County edition of The County Woman Magazine.

Living with pain is something that, unfortunately, many of us do on a daily basis. It is an invisible, subjective symptom that can lead to anxiety and even depression. When pain interferes with daily activities, it can rob a person of an important part of their life.

Dr. Michael O’Hara has devoted his career to the specialized field of Pain Management. As an expert in his field, he treats various pain conditions like spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, whiplash injuries, facet joint syndrome and sciatica. “We treat all types of acute and chronic pain problems and are the largest pain management group in New Jersey with eight offices spanning over three counties,” he explained.  “Because of our superior training, cutting edge technology, and compassionate care, we set the bar for pain management at the highest possible level. We get results.”

As a graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry he finished in the top 5% of his class and later completed an Anesthesiology residency from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He later continued his studies as a Fellow in the field of Pain Management. Dr. O’Hara currently resides in Monmouth County with his wife and three children.

Ocean County Woman recently sat down with Dr. O’Hara to learn more about this fascinating field of medicine.

OCW: What are the most common types of pain conditions that you treat?

Dr. O’Hara: The majority of pain conditions that we treat involve spinal pain problems, low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, herniated discs, arthritic conditions in the spine, motor vehicle accidents and workman’s compensation injuries.

OCW: What are some typical causes of these conditions?

Dr. O’Hara: Back pain can be caused by a variety of things such as discs that are herniated or pinching spinal nerves, arthritic or inflammatory problems, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), or musculoskeletal problems. It is our job to find the primary cause of the pain and direct treatment to reduce or eliminate it.

OCW: What are some successful methods of treatment?

Dr. O’Hara: Treatment is individualized depending on the cause of the problem and how each person presents. When a patient arrives for an appointment, a complete history and problem-focused physical exam is performed. Pertinent studies are reviewed to assist in the diagnosis of the problem. Treatment can involve a combination of therapeutic or diagnostic injections, physical therapy, psychological counseling, medications or minimal surgical interventional techniques. We utilize different diagnostic injections guided by X-ray or ultrasound to determine the nerve, joint, or disc that causes the pain. These procedures may be followed by guided injections to reduce inflammation or desensitize painful areas.

OCW: Discuss some of the latest cutting-edge treatments that are on the rise.

Dr. O’Hara: These new treatments are available for different pain conditions: Herniated discs can be decompressed through a needle or small endoscope (Nucleoplasty, Dekompressor). Spinal Stenosis can be treated with minimally invasive techniques (MILD procedure). These procedures are minimally invasive and performed on a same day, outpatient basis. Most importantly, they can provide life changing improvement.

OCW: What sets your practice apart from other pain management practices?

Dr. O’Hara: All of our physicians are double board certified and fellowship trained in pain management. They have been trained at the finest institutions in the country (University of

Pennsylvania, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Emory, University of Michigan). We treat each patient as an individual—just as we would our own family members.

OCW: What are the long-term goals of your treatments? What can a patient expect?

Dr. O’Hara: The long-term goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function and return people to a purposeful level of activity. Patients participate in the formulation of their care plan and are active participants in their treatment. We reassess the benefits of treatment at every visit to ensure the patient is progressing in the correct direction.

OCW: How did you become interested in this field?

Dr. O’Hara: During my anesthesia residency at the University of Pennsylvania I became interested in pain management. It is a natural evolution from anesthesia because of the knowledge of pharmacology and the various nerve blocks utilized. I became interested in the detective work necessary to find the root cause of the patient’s pain syndrome. The patient’s examination, MRI studies, and history became pieces of a puzzle to solve in order to help them.

OCW: What is the most challenging? What is the most rewarding part about your profession?

Dr. O’Hara: The most challenging part is trying to get some patients involved as an active participant in their own care. The most rewarding part of my profession is getting patients back to a normal life. It is the job of every physician to ease human suffering. I have the privilege of doing that every day!