The Importance of Leadership

In the field of pain management, many components must come together to overcome chronic pain conditions that patients experience. These components include medication, surgical and non-surgical procedures, physical therapy, and education. One lesser-known component in the pain management process is that of leadership. Leadership is required for all of the diverse pieces of the treatment puzzle to address patient needs and to help ensure favorable treatment outcomes.

Since he first began practicing medicine, Dr. Narinder S. Grewal, MD, has embodied the leadership traits and abilities needed to give his patients the very best chance at recovery. Through his careful diagnosis, treatment, and patient advocacy, he has helped thousands of patients overcome debilitating spinal and musculoskeletal injuries. Here is a closer look at how his leadership has been instrumental in changing patients’ lives for the better.

Dr. Grewal’s Leadership Traits

There are several key traits that Dr. Narinder Grewal harnesses in his leadership role as the director of the Advanced Pain Management and Neurology Group in Valencia, California. Primarily, he is a transformational leader, able to identify a specific need and then to work with a team to develop a solution. As a leader, he has assembled a team of medical professionals, including pain management specialists and neurologists. Each member of the team is committed to transforming lives, and Dr. Grewal is instrumental in guiding this team and their care plans to success.

In his patient-oriented clinical practice, Dr. Grewal believes that a personalized approach is the ideal means of assisting patients. By carefully using diagnostic tools and procedures, he can more accurately pinpoint the underlying causes of chronic pain. He leads by example, learning new procedures and techniques as part of annual continuing education programs and conference attendances. Once he has mastered these new procedures, he then shares his findings with his staff at the clinic. In this way, he is not only transforming himself and his team but ultimately his patients who benefit from cutting-edge treatment plans.

Related: Is CBD an effective way to handle pain management?

Dr. Grewal also uses inspirational leadership techniques to achieve positive patient outcomes. His ability to provide his team with inspiration is well-known in the pain management field of medicine. He inspires his staff to learn more and to approach patient encounters with compassion and care. Dr. Grewal also inspires his patients. Early on in his medical career, he learned about the concept of patient advocacy and has used that as his guiding light throughout his career. In his role as a patient advocate, he helps patients become active participants in their treatment programs. By providing education and guidance – in effect, putting his patients in charge of their care plans — those patients are far more likely to adhere to the treatment plans, take their medications as directed, and engage in therapeutic efforts to recover more quickly. Dr. Grewal and his staff at Advanced Pain Management have achieved incredible results through this method. Dr. Grewal is an inspiration to his peers in the pain management field as well as to his clinical staff, his patients, and his family.



Exploring Cannabis Pain Management as a Substantiated Alternative

cannabis, a safe alternative?

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Chronic pain is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. A broad number of therapeutic solutions have been employed to treat chronic pain, including powerful prescription medications. Of these medications, opioid-based painkillers have been widely used. These medications are not without their hazards, however; with a high potential for abuse and a growing number of opioid-related overdose deaths, medical professionals around the world are now seeking safer alternatives for treating pain.

Medical cannabis has shown promise in limited trials, and in fact this alternative was discussed at the International Conference on Opioids, a three-day medical conference held in Boston, Massachusetts. The so-called “opioid epidemic” was discussed at length as physicians, pain management specialists, and caregivers alike seek to treat pain without the potential harmful effects of powerful opioid-based drugs.

Cannabis for Treating Pain?

There are hundreds of active chemical compounds in cannabis in a class referred to as cannabinoids, but the two receiving the most attention are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound that creates feelings of euphoria, leading to the “high” desired by recreational marijuana users. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, and has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of pain in limited clinical trials. CBD does not appear to be beneficial in acute pain settings, but for chronic pain, it shows great promise as an alternative to opioid medications.

As patients experience chronic pain for successive months, physiological and chemical changes take place in their bodies. Receptors for cannabinoids increase, improving the response to the analgesic effects of CBD. Pain which originates in the nervous system, called neuropathic pain, is especially responsive to CBD. Patients afflicted with neuralgia, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other pain conditions report a significant reduction in pain, both in the level of pain as well as its duration. Medical professionals believe that CBD-based pain medications may serve best as an alternative when conventional therapies have not produced the desired results, or in cases where the harmful effects of opioids outweigh their potential for mitigating pain.

Delivery Systems for CBD and Quality Control

Traditionally, medical marijuana has been smoked by patients to provide relief for a number of health conditions. The medical profession, however, realizes that inhalation of smoke can create unpleasant side effects. Research has been conducted into other means of delivering the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). These other means include CBD-infused edible products and delivery systems that vaporize the active compounds without combustion. In clinical trials, CBD tinctures, edibles, and vaporization systems have all been shown to be as effective as inhalation in treating chronic pain.

One area the medical community wishes to see improvements in is the quality control and consistency of medical cannabis products on the market, asserts Dr. Grewal. Patients have been self-medicating for decades, and products on the market vary in quality. Standardization efforts, particularly in laboratory assays and product labeling initiatives, can work to help patients understand dosages and percentages of active chemical compounds, leading to improved patient outcomes. Further research is needed, of course, to gain understanding in dosages and dose response in patients afflicted with chronic pain conditions.

A Safer Alternative

Despite the limited clinical evidence showing medical cannabis as effective in treating chronic pain, patients around the world and a growing number of medical professionals believe that this naturally-derived substance represents a safe path forward. Opioid-related deaths have reached staggering levels, causing pain management specialists to seek safe, effective alternatives to traditional pharmacotherapies involving opioids. Medical cannabis will continue to be studied, and may one day serve as a replacement therapy for the potential harmful opioid-based medications.

Exploring Acupuncture Therapy as a Safe Alternative

acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine

Opioid-related overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States over the past decade. Powerful opioid painkillers have been a traditional approach to treating both acute and chronic pain conditions, but the potentially dangerous side effects have led many healthcare professionals to seek safer alternatives.

One of those alternatives is grounded in Eastern medicine, and is based on centuries of positive patient outcomes. This alternative is known to the Western medical community as acupuncture, and pain management professionals have begun to incorporate this alternative therapy in their own clinical practices.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine, and has been practiced since at least 100 BC. Over time, it has evolved and spread to other countries, finally arriving on U.S. shores in the early 20th century.

Acupuncture consists of inserting tiny sterilized needles into the skin, targeting nerve centers and/or pressure points in the human body. It is commonly used as a form of pain relief, especially for chronic pain conditions like musculoskeletal pain, spinal disorders, and joint pain. A typical acupuncture session consists of multiple needles being inserted, ranging from just a few to 20 or more, depending on the type and severity of pain. The needles are often left in place for ten to 30 minutes. The needles vary in thickness and in manipulation; needles are often rotated or moved up and down relative to the patients’ skin surfaces to create a localized aching sensation. A specialized form of acupuncture called auricular acupuncture uses tiny metal darts that penetrate the skin of the patient’s ears, leading to surprisingly effective pain relief in many patients.

Related: Mental Health & Pain Management

Acupuncture therapy may also incorporate the application of heat, laser light, pressure, or low-voltage electricity to enhance the effects of the therapy. There are both specialist acupuncturists and medical professionals that have received special training in the application and manipulation of the needles. A growing number of pain management clinics in the United States have added acupuncture to their rosters of treatment options for patients, believing that acupuncture is a safer alternative to painkillers while achieving much of the same effectiveness at treating chronic pain conditions.

Alternatives to Opioid Medications

In the pain management community, alternatives to potentially addictive or deadly opioid medications like Oxycontin, morphine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, are a growing trend, according to Dr. Narinder S. Grewal of Advanced Pain Management. Medical cannabis-based treatment therapies are showing promise, and acupuncture has been received well by patients across the country.

Acupuncture has gained popularity based on its history and its reported benefits in mitigating pain. The benefits are free of the side effects of opioid painkillers, which include a high potential for abuse and the chance of overdose deaths. Acupuncture is also endorsed by the American Pain Society, one of the leading professional organizations for pain management specialists.

Much of the science behind how acupuncture works and why it produces beneficial effects remains unclear, and that has led to practitioners of acupuncture being the focus of skepticism. One of the remaining hurdles for incorporating acupuncture into pain management treatment protocols is that of medical insurance. Currently, only five states cover acupuncture when used in treating pain, while the remaining 45 states do not. Advocates of acupuncture, including professional medical organizations and healthcare providers, are working with insurance companies to improve patient access to this alternative therapy that has the potential to save lives.