The ability to provide the absolute, most meaningful type of patient care is what drew Dr. Surmeet Singh Chhina to anesthesiology and then to pain management. “Nothing is more noticeable to a patient than their pain – whether it be in the acute/peri-operative setting or in the more long term chronic setting,” he said. “People are deeply affected by pain both physically and emotionally and having the ability to modify that and improve someone’s quality of life is one of the most rewarding things one can do in medicine.”
Earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Chhina earned his medical degree from the Detroit-based Wayne State University School of Medicine. He worked as a preliminary surgery intern at Allegheny General Hospital and completed an anesthesiology residency at Allegheny Health Network, both in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon completing a pain medicine fellowship at Case Western University in Ohio, he joined the National Spine and Pain Centers in late summer 2018.
One treatment that Dr. Chhina is enthusiastic about is neuromodulation, a physiological process involving neuron regulation. “Neuromodulation is really the most exciting thing happening right now in the world of interventional pain management,” he said. “Newer techniques and devices are being developed as we speak and will offer patients more options than ever to treat their pain in minimally invasive ways. Surgery is a huge commitment and certainly no guarantee to fix someone’s pain but neuromodulation devices allow alternative and more importantly reversible options to patients.”
He also believes medication management is a vital aspect of a comprehensive pain management plan. “We are taught early on in our anesthesiology training that the key to creating a treatment plan is a multi-modal approach,” he said. “In pain medicine, this includes things such as medication management, procedures, self-directed active forms of therapy and even involving other types of professionals such as psychologists.”
As medicine, in general, continues to move toward a more patient-oriented, patient-centered direction, Dr. Chhina is fully aligned with this philosophy especially when it comes to pain management. “Patients are the only ones that can truly relay their symptoms and the efficacy of our treatment,” he said. “There is no such thing as a pain thermometer and therefore it is imperative that we listen to and work together with our patients to improve their functionality and get them back to doing the things they love.”
Away from the office, Dr. Chhina likes staying active and being outdoors. He enjoys bicycling, hiking including recently climbing to the top of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, golfing and traveling. He is also a marathon runner. After work, he will often hang out with his dog, Turbo.
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