In 1986, K. Dean Willis, M.D., felt led to approach the management of chronic pain in a different way. Until then, the standard approach was to try progressively stronger medications until something worked. If medications failed, nerve blocks were typically performed as the last resort for any pain relief. Dr. Willis felt strongly that because chronic pain has an impact on virtually every aspect of a patient’s life and it required a broad multi-disciplinary approach. He founded the Alabama Pain Center (APC) with that goal.
In addition to an array of medical treatments and interventions, patients at the APC undergo group counseling classes to help them learn more about the emotional and psychological impact of chronic pain. J. Michael George, Psy.D., leads participants through a variety of sessions to help them regain a better sense of worth and purpose.
Physical therapy is the third major component of the program at APC. New patients undergo a thorough assessment to determine their level of functioning in activities of daily living (ADL’s). Regular reassessments are performed to monitor the patient’s progress and improvement.
When appropriate, Dr. Willis utilizes implantable pain pumps to dispense precise doses of customized mixtures of intrathecal pain medications. The APC operates its own compounding pharmacy to promote this patient-specific plan of care. Thanks to his leadership in the development of the specialty of pain management, Dr. Willis is a frequent speaker at pain conferences around the world.