Innovation and Individualization

Brian Derhake, MD, uses customized pain management techniques to reverse the cycle of hopelessness and get patients back to their lives

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LOUISVILLE With the rise in life expectancy, stress, and obesity, pain is incredibly common. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, more than 25 million American adults reported having pain every day for the previous three months.
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And, with chronic pain being linked to depression, sleep deprivation, and anxiety, it is imperative that the medical community find new and innovative ways to end the suffering. One physician dedicated to doing this is Brian Derhake, MD.

Derhake, who is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology, joined The Pain Institute in 2016 and also sees patients at the outpatient pain clinic at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville. He graduated medical school at the University of Louisville and completed a fellowship with the Cleveland Clinic, one of the premier pain clinics in the world. While there, he trained under many of the foremost experts in the field.

The Pain Institute provides a wide range of therapeutic procedures, diagnostic and surgical recommendations, and non-opioid medications to help patients who have been sidelined by chronic pain. The most common culprits are lower back, neck, and the knee pain that often persists after total knee replacement surgery. Three of the most exciting innovations in treatment are the genicular nerve block, spinal cord stimulation, and ultrasound-guided procedures.

During the genicular nerve block, radiofrequency lesioning is used to burn the nerves and break the neuropathway to the brain, leading to longer lasting relief than with traditional injections. Spinal cord stimulation can aid in the control of many conditions, including complex regional pain syndrome, a devastating disease process causing severe chronic pain. The use of ultrasound and x-ray guidance enables physicians to perform procedures with more confidence and accuracy.

These, along with other breakthrough treatments, allow Derhake to meet his mission. “My goal is to help everybody get up off the couch and get back into living their life,” he says. To accomplish this, he tailors the treatment plan to the individual patient. “I like to work with them and discuss what their goals are rather than just presenting a plan. I like to educate them and come to a decision with them. I am both their doctor and their healthcare advocate,” he states.

Hence, Derhake prides himself on seeing, examining, and assessing each of his patients at The Pain Institute and Jewish Hospital Shelbyville. He also understands the importance of a strong referral network and working closely with spine and orthopedic surgeons as well as primary physicians to provide complete comprehensive pain care.

A principal reason for customizing care is to curb the abuse of opioids. When asked about the prevalence of opioid-seeking patients, Derhake explains how the reputation of the clinic often deters these individuals because it is known that The Pain Institute ideally opts for other early interventional methods. Derhake also states that he, personally, is dedicated to “trying to decrease the opiate epidemic in our society and help people with alternative measures.”

These alternative measures can often change the life of the patient, who, having exhausted all surgical options, opts for pain management. After receiving certain procedures or courses of treatment, many see a significant decrease in pain and can become much more active in their daily life and are able to return to work. He finds this to be the most rewarding aspect of the job. “The most exciting thing for me is seeing patients get back into their lives and out of the cycle of sitting around their house feeling depressed and feeling hopeless,” says Derhake. For this reason, he is committed to continuing to find cutting-edge answers to the pain problem.

1 Brady, Dennis. (August 11, 2015) “NIH: More than 1 in 10 American Adults Experience Chronic Pain.” Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/11/nih-more-than-1-in-10-american-adults-experience-chronic-pain/

I like to educate [patients] and come to a decision with them. I am both their doctor and their healthcare advocate. – Dr. Brian Derhake