Our Neurosurgical Pain Center specializes in the neurosurgical research and treatment of chronic pain disorders. Chronic pain is a common problem worldwide and the most common cause of disability in the United States.
Dr. Christopher Winfree and Dr. Guy McKhann, Co-Directors of the Neurosurgical Pain Center, collaborate closely in their research findings and treatment experiences.
Dr. Christopher Winfree specializes in the neurosurgical treatment of chronic pain disorders and recommends a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach. Patients work with their existing physicians, which include primary care physicians, neurologists and pain management physicians, to exhaust non and less invasive treatment options (some treatments listed below) before seeing Dr. Winfree.
- A combination of medications, including anticonvulsants and antidepressants.
- Topical therapies, patches
- Noninvasive therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic and feedback can be utilized
- Topical electrical stimulation can also be used
If the above noninvasive strategies are insufficient, then a patient may be a candidate for a number of different injection therapies.
- Epidural steroid injections
- Trigger point injections
- Selective nerve root blocks
- Botox injections
- Sympathetic blocks
- Nerve blocks.
Patients who do not get sufficient pain relief with nonoperative strategies may then be considered for more aggressive neurosurgical pain management strategies. Dr. Christopher Winfree specializes in these strategies and Dr. Guy McKhann can help determine whether you might be a good candidate for the 3rd strategy listed below.
- Neurostimulation is the placement of an electrical device along the nervous system. It administers a weak electrical current, which patients feel as a tingling sensation, and blocks the subjective experience of pain. Neurostimulation includes spinal cord stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, ultrasound-guided peripheral nerve stimulation, and motor cortex stimulation to treat a variety of chronic neuropathic pain disorders.
- Intrathecal pain medication is injected into the spine. If the patient benefits from the spinal medication, a spinal infusion pump is implanted. This pump can then provide a constant infusion of spinal medication, resulting in durable pain relief.
- Laser Cingulotomy is a new technique being researched and developed at Columbia. It is a last resort treatment option for patients that have had no success with other treatment options. This therapy targets the area of the brain that processes pain as a bothersome sensation. It does not take away the pain, rather it takes away a person’s ability to be bothered by the pain. Some patients find that the procedure can dramatically improve their quality of life. It is as if the pain is consigned to background noise rather than being at the forefront of their minds and disruptive to their day-to-day lives. By pushing the pain into the background of the conscious awareness this frees up patients to resume their lives as normally as possible without being bothered by the pain.
Both Dr. Christopher Winfree and Dr. Guy McKhann are also neurosurgical experts in treating trigeminal neuralgia.