By Tom Bostock
Pain can be defined as physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury. It is a reality of everyday life. Accidents, spinal degeneration from aging/disease, and sports injuries are daily occurrences. Doctors will sometimes prescribe opioids to manage and control that pain. Herein lies a part of the problem. It is generally accepted that we are facing the worst opioid dependency crisis in our history. More than 64,000 people die from overdoses each year; the nation’s life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row (time.com/the opioid diaries).
In a world where there is not only “an app for that” but, unfortunately, a pill for that as well, it is refreshing to meet someone who believes that opioids are not the only way to treat trauma and pain. Dr. Casey O’Donnell is a proponent of another, non-addictive option, interventional pain management.
Dr. O’Donnell defines himself as a “Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist,” a Physiatrist, who practices what he calls “functional rehabilitation.” He is board certified in both Physical Medicine and Rehabiltation, and Pain Medicine. Board certification is the additional step, involving testing and review by a board of his peers, that a dedicated doctor takes to ensure that his patients benefit from the latest techniques and state-of-the-art advances available for each of his specialties. He is board certified by both the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as the American Board of Pain Medicine.
His goal, Dr. O’Donnell says, is to “make people as good as possible,” believing that “the body has the innate ability to heal itself.” The Floridmedicalclinic.com website notes that “he believes the best treatment for acute and chronic conditions is a multidisciplinary rehabilitation plan and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. His philosophy is to return a patient to the most functional and productive lifestyle possible while minimizing reliance on chronic medication use.”
Dr. O’Donnell was educated at the University of New England-College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, ME. Although both Allopathic Physicians (MDs), and Osteopathic Physicians (DOs) are fully licensed medical doctors, receiving the same overall educational curriculum, there are some basic differences between their training and philosophies; DOs employ a whole-person approach to treatment and care. Both can practice in all areas of medicine but, as Dr. O’Donnell said in a recent interview, Osteopathic physicians receive training with a greater focus on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems during medical school and believe in a holistic approach, that the body has the ability to heal itself, and that structure and function are integrally related.
He specializes in the treatment of degenerative issues of the spine and joints for both the adult and senior populations. As part of his philosophy that the body has the potential to heal itself, he also offers Prolotherapy, Platelet Rich Plasma, and amniotic derived growth factor injections to help heal both acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.
When asked about his views regarding medical marijuana, he was very forthcoming and candid, “I’m not overly impressed with the results that I have seen in the chronic pain population, and it is definitely not a cure-all for chronic pain.”
His techniques to help patients control their pain combine physical therapy, home exercises and a variety of minimally invasive procedures to help control pain and suffering. His goal, he says, is to get his patients feeling “as good as possible, by minimizing medications and maximizing function.” He added that “not everybody is going to feel 16 again.”
During our interview, Dr. O’Donnell handed me a small metal object, semi-conical in shape. The Superion, manufactured by Vertiflex Spine, is a spacer that he inserts in the spine through about a one-inch incision that takes the pressure off the spine to help alleviate the symptoms caused by lumbar spinal stenosis. The procedure is performed as an out-patient in one of the two surgical centers at Florida Medical Clinic. He is one of only a few doctors nationally who can perform this spine-related procedure.
According to the Vertiflex website, “Superion is revolutionizing the treatment of Lumbar Stenosis. It provides patients with a minimally invasive approach that puts their comfort and safety first, offering the only treatment on the continuum of care between conservative care and surgery,” (vertiflexpine.com). According to Mayo clinic, lumbar stenosis is “the narrowing of the open spaces in the lower lumbar spine,” a condition that causes low back and leg pain while walking and can seriously impact mobility.
One patient noted that “Dr. O’Donnell is a doctor that actually listens to you and he actually made me feel like there is a light at the end of the very dark and painful tunnel.” As Dr. O’Donnell notes, “You can come to me if you are having degenerative disease to improve your function … but don’t come to me for opioids.” Visit Doctor O’Donnell today. You have nothing to lose except your pain!
Casey O’Donnell, DO, Florida Medical Clinic, 2100 Via Bella Blvd, Suite 103, Land O’ Lakes (813 977 6688)