The centre’s highly trained team of experts is committed to creating a specialised plan for each patient so that quality of life can be restored as best and as soon as possible
If you’ve ever experienced chronic pain, you know how debilitating it can be. It not only makes ordinary work and home activities difficult, but it also interferes with sleep and impacts brain function, mental health, cardiovascular health, sexual function and overall quality of life. And because chronic pain has the capacity to become increasingly complex over time, it also becomes more difficult to treat.
Dr Annie Pinto, an American board-certified anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist, founded the Bermuda Pain Relief Center in 2017 with one overarching goal: to restore quality of life to those experiencing pain and return them to the activities they enjoy. “Prior to moving to Bermuda, I was working as a pediatric anesthesiologist helping children with pain and as an assistant professor at Columbia University in New York City,” says Dr Pinto. “I opened the Bermuda Pain Relief Center in order to provide a multidisciplinary approach to treatment of complex chronic pain conditions. Evidence shows that treating pain by a team approach offers superior outcomes. We combine physiotherapy, medical interventions and psychological treatment of pain. Combining approaches is the best way to return patients to normal levels of function.”
Dr Pinto is excited to be adding an innovative new treatment option—and another highly trained pain specialist, Dr Sudhir Diwan—to the centre’s offerings. Dr Diwan is the executive director of Manhattan Spine & Pain Medicine and associate clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Before that, he was the director of the Tri-Institutional Pain Fellowship Program and Division of Pain Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and on the faculty of New York Presbyterian Hospital.
In October 2022, Dr Diwan will be introducing regenerative medicine to the island. “Regenerative medicine is an exciting new field,” says Dr Pinto. “It uses young cells that have the unique ability to transform into differentiated and specialised cells able to regenerate tissues in our bodies. Those cells also have the ability to heal us when positioned in enough quantities in an inflamed environment, transforming damaged cells into structurally healthy cells. Injecting the patient’s own young cells into a degenerated disc, for example, decreases inflammation, decreases pain, and slows down the ongoing degenerative process. It has proven also to be a very safe intervention with a low complication risk. Patients are very satisfied years after a single injection.”
Regenerative medicine can be life-changing for those with chronic back pain. Through multiple studies, it has proven to result in a statistically significant decrease in patients’ pain scores and has improved their overall function. It is also a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment completed as an outpatient intervention. “Although it is common to expect a few days of increased pain, the recovery is short and considered easy by most patients,” says Dr Pinto. “It is exciting that a single injection can give a person relief of symptoms that lasts for years. This will decrease the need for more invasive and risky surgical interventions.”
The same approach—injection of young cells into damaged areas of the body—can also be used for treating joint osteoarthritis, tendonitis, tendon tears and other painful conditions. However, regenerative medicine is not a miracle therapy, and it doesn’t work equally well for everyone. Patient care at the Bermuda Pain Relief Center is always individualised so that the best possible therapies are provided according to each unique situation.
Given the impact that pain can have on a person’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, the centre’s highly trained team of experts is committed to creating a specialised plan for each patient so that quality of life can be restored as best and as soon as possible. “I’m excited that we are adding Dr Diwan’s incredible experience and talent to our team,” says Dr Pinto. “We are in an even better position to offer the customised treatment plans that every person who experiences chronic pain deserves.”