Pain pills in Parkersburg meet new competition

Photo by Jenna Pierson Dr. Galal Gargodhi is a pain management physician excited about making a difference in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

PARKERSBURG — A new pain management specialist has arrived in Parkersburg and hopes to change the culture surrounding opioid usage and treatment of chronic pain through early intervention.

Dr. Galal Gargodhi was recently hired by WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center to pioneer the new non-invasive clinic, which is located at 1901 Ann St., across 19th Street from St. Joseph’s Landing.

Gargodhi completed his internal medicine residency at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, as well as an additional residency in anesthesiology at Tufts University in Boston. Before coming to Parkersburg, Gargodhi was an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

“Many health care professionals in the past have just treated pain as pain and didn’t think to evaluate the underlying cause,” Gargodhi said of his integrative approach to dealing with chronic bone and joint pain and discomfort in patients.

According to Gargodhi, roughly 20 to 25 percent of patients who have invasive surgeries and are prescribed opioids during their healing process will still be using those medications a year later due to continual pain or formed addiction.

Photo by Jenna Pierson The clinic will provide medical services for a multitude of different issues, ranging from spinal injuries to arthritis.

Alternative pain management as an area of medical practice began to rise rapidly in the early 2000s in response to the growing number of long-term opioid users. It is a conservative first-step approach to treating chronic pain in lieu of more immediate radical treatment, he said.

The clinic will provide medical services for a multitude of different issues, ranging from spinal injuries to arthritis. Primary solutions will include trigger point injections to relieve pressure on nerve roots, nerve block injections and lumbar steroid injections to decrease inflammation.

Same-day outpatient procedures will also be available with the goal of reducing pain for several years at a time and consequently reducing the number of visits necessary.

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an electric current to conduct heat that reduces pain signals sent from nerves to the brain. Other treatments, such as MILD (Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression) and Veriflex, require a minor incision that will heal quickly and require minimal downtime, Gargodhi said.

More direct and innovative approaches to pain management reduce the number of prescribed opioids and decrease chances of drug dependency, Gargodhi said. These procedures are also available to those who still experience pain from previous failed operations and provide a new, healthier solution, he said.

“Our community members in pain deserve local, close-to-home access to the latest evidence-based treatments to address their medical issues,” said Sean Smith, vice president of physician enterprises and clinical integration at Camden Clark.

“This area is one of the hardest hit in the nation from the (opioid) crisis,” Gargodhi said. “I felt I had the opportunity to bring this type of treatment to an area that has lacked these services.”

Gargodhi hopes to expand the clinic with support from WVU Medicine Camden Clark into a multidisciplinary pain clinic in the future, which would combine various other methods such as psychotherapy to help individuals at all stages of their treatment or addiction. The clinic would be a single stop for relief and recovery similar to those at world-renowned medical facilities, such as the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics, he said.

Gargodhi is accepting patients through physician and insured self-referrals.

“One-hundred percent of the procedures here are insurance covered, including most Medicare and Medicaid,” Gargodhi said.

Gargodhi prides himself on his open-door policy and looks forward to facilitating positive relationships with his patients and the community, he said.

“I think the field is evolving and we are making progress,” Gargodhi said. “We are definitely making an impact when it comes to fighting the opioid crisis.”

Jenna Pierson can be reached at editorial@newsandsentinel.com