TWO main factors influenced anaesthetist Dr Nick Christelis’ decision to also branch out into pain medicine.
South African born, Dr Christelis saw a lot of suffering during his training and his father also suffered from a chronic back injury for two years.
“I watched pain break him down over two years until he had an operation that made him perfect again,” Dr Christelis said.
So, together with Dr Tim Hucker, he formed Victoria Pain Specialists last September, which will start practising in Ballarat next week at St John of God Hospital.
Dr Christelis said the specialists saw pain from the patient’s perspective and treated them as a complete entity.
“Not many people get pain, but I do and so does Tim. Most people don’t know how to treat it and just overuse opiates.”
He said they adopted a five-point plan, including educating the patient, modifying medications, using interventions and blocks, such as needles, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Dr Christelis said psychology aspects also needed managing, as depression was often a side-effect of long-term chronic pain.
“It’s about getting them back to being a mum, a dad, a grandparent. It’s about them getting back to work or playing sport.”
He said they were the first pain medicine specialists in regional Victoria.
“There is a huge demand for supporting people in pain. People are getting older, sicker, arthritis is a real issue and they are living longer because cancer is now considered a chronic illness rather than something that will kill you.
“People are being kept alive longer, but their pain is being poorly managed. We have a big task on our hands.”
St John of God Hospital chief executive officer Michael Krieg said the two pain specialists would enhance pain management services provided to the Ballarat community.
For more information or appointments, call 1300 798 682.