VA medical center opens pain management clinic

Pain management physical therapist, Dr. Justin Emfinger, uses trigger point dry needling and...
Pain management physical therapist, Dr. Justin Emfinger, uses trigger point dry needling and electronic stimulation to relieve pain in a patient at the John J.Pershing VA Medical Center.(John J. Pershing VA Medical Center)
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 10:18 AM CDT
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KAIT/Edited News Release) - A much-needed healthcare service has become a reality at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff.

The Integrated Pain Management Clinic opened in mid-June, according to Dr. Karis Ivie, the facility’s pain management, opioid safety, and prescription drug monitoring program coordinator.

According to information from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, almost two-thirds of military Veterans in the U.S. are in pain, with just over 9% rating it as severe, so the clinic will serve a very important function.

It is located on the first floor of the main facility, near the north entrance, and will feature a physical therapy room, three exam rooms, and a waiting area.

The addition of the clinic comes after repeated requests from Veterans, Ivie noted, especially since many have had to travel long distances to be seen by community providers.

In fiscal year 2021 alone, 1,757 Veterans in the John J. Pershing system were referred for off-site pain management care. Offering the same services at the local VA facility will ease the burden on those patients, Ivie said.

Keeping costs contained also will be a benefit of the on-site pain clinic, Ivie explained, noting in fiscal year 2020, more than $3.6 million was spent on community care pain management.

Pain management is one of the largest and most expensive types of care that is sent to the community, she said.

The clinic, Ivie said, will be a hub where patients can get complete, Veteran-centered care for their pain using an interdisciplinary approach.

“We have a multi-disciplinary team to provide a whole health approach to pain management for patients,” she explained. “Everything will be in one place, and I think it will be refreshing. Veterans will receive treatment within a facility where they are comfortable, and they will get that feeling that we’re addressing all aspects of their care.”

A physical therapist will use modalities such as trigger point dry needling to treat musculoskeletal pain and movement issues, plus myofascial cupping, battlefield acupuncture, and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Additionally, more traditional treatments like ultrasound, various electronic stimulation methods, and individualized stretching, strengthening, and stability exercise programs will be used as needed.

A nurse practitioner with extensive orthopedic and interventional pain management experience is expected to offer joint and trigger point injections, battlefield acupuncture, order complementary services when necessary, develop extensive pain evaluations, and more.

A psychologist will provide evidence-based therapy and general pain psychiatric services using telehealth methods, while an on-site pharmacist will take care of medication management and reconciliations, risk mitigation, as well as assessments and monitoring.

Together, Ivie said, the team will develop a customized plan for each patient. “Each provider will coordinate together to ensure all aspects of a patient’s care are addressed for the best outcome,” she said. “We want our Veterans to know they will get a broader spectrum of care than is typically available in the private sector.”

Those seeking an appointment in the new pain clinic must first be referred by their primary care doctor, she noted.

For more information about the Integrated Pain Management Clinic or other programs and services at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center, please call 573-686-4151.