Yogasana For Back Pain Relief What Makes the Doctor Feel Good

Can you imagine being able to walk into a room and have the power to do something that will make somebody’s pain go away?

Being able to change the way a person feels for the better, and in just a matter of minutes, is an exhilarating feeling for a doctor. A patient comes to you with debilitating pain in his or her back, leg, or neck, and you have the ability to perform a procedure or deliver a medication that quickly dissipates that person’s pain. Back when I was starting off as a doctor in training, that was my idea of a rush. What a major league baseball player feels after hitting a game-winning home run, or a concert pianist after opening night, that was what I felt after treating a patient’s pain.

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While in medical school at the University of Southern California (USC), I became good friends with a bright, happy-go-lucky classmate named Jack. During downtime from class, we often played pickup basketball games with the guys, went to Trojan football games on weekends, lifted weights together, and mostly kept each other laughing through the stress of medical school. Back then I was undecided about which field of medicine I wanted to go into, but Jack was sure he wanted to become an anesthesiologist. He seemed to know quite a bit about the specialty, perhaps because his mom worked as an administrator in the anesthesia department at USC. Jack eventually convinced me that a career in anesthesia would be challenging, rewarding, and at the same time, would mean I would only have to deal with any given patient’s complex medical problems for a finite period of time. The opposite would be true in a career based on chronic disease management. Anesthesia seemed like a great choice.

Jack and I stayed at USC for our anesthesia residencies, which meant we spent a lot of time working and training at Los Angeles County Hospital, one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the country; in many ways, a world unto itself. A major trauma center serving vast numbers of indigent patients from the greater Los Angeles area and beyond, County Hospital was loaded with people suffering from every conceivable disease, including some not usually seen in the United States.

Crises were as routine as your morning cup of coffee. Every minute of every day, people with gunshot wounds, stab wounds, fractured skulls, and limbs torn off in motorcycle accidents were rolled or dragged in through the hospital doors. On many Saturday nights, we worked frantically to save people who had been caught up in what we referred to as the “knife and gun club.” People were born in that hospital, died there, and those without homes sometimes even lived there.

It was exciting to have patients’ lives literally in my hands all day long, and I soon became determined to make sure that each and every one of them woke up pain-free. The more cases I handled, the better I got at titrating medications so that patients would wake up feeling very comfortable, no matter what type of surgery they had undergone. And by the time I reached my senior year of residency, I very much wanted to apply my pain-relieving skills outside of the operating room As it happened, there was a brand new specialty associated with anesthesia that dealt with pain management, so that became my senior elective.

During this rotation, I was introduced to painful diseases like diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia, complex regional pain syndrome, and herniated discs. I learned how to relieve these terrible, long-standing pain problems by performing special nerve blocks and other high-tech procedures. The results were instantaneous and made me feel great. Let’s face it, being able to walk into a room and do something on the spot that wipes away someone’s pain gives you a god-like feeling! And using cutting-edge technology that few other doctors have mastered made me feel even more special. So once my anesthesia residency was complete, I went to the University of California at San Francisco for a fellowship in pain management.

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