Martin Harrell, M.D., sees patients in National Spine & Pain Centers’ Front Royal, VA center, where he performs a wide range of interventional pain procedures, including spinal injections, joint injections, nerve ablations and spinal cord stimulation.
Dr. Harrell earned his medical degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also completed a fellowship in pain medicine and a residency in anesthesiology. “There is a lot of overlap between the two fields,” he said, noting that many of the same medications and procedures are used in both areas. “For me, however, what makes the field of pain management fulfilling is the opportunity it provides me to establish long and meaningful relationships with my patients, as opposed to simply seeing them prior to or after a surgical procedure.”
He is also excited by advances in pain management techniques, including radiofrequency nerve ablation for recurrent joint pain, especially in the knees. “This can be especially valuable to those who have had knee replacement surgery who, either because of circumstances related to the surgery itself or changes over time, are still experiencing pain,” he said. With a continually growing range of interventional treatment options available to patients, Dr. Harrell views opioids as a treatment of last resort, especially given the current epidemic of prescription pain medication abuse. “I try to pursue every other avenue so we can avoid going down that road,” he said. “I would prefer to see them find relief in other ways because there is great satisfaction in helping a patient get off the couch to be employed again and enjoying time as a fully functioning member of society,” he said.
In his free time, Dr. Harrell enjoys spending time with his wife and two small children. He also enjoys hiking and mountain climbing. He has climbed Mt. Rainier twice as well as Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America (22,840 feet).