Live Well: Pain Management

Editorial StaffNovember 1, 2023
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Leading pain management experts in the Valley offer advice on how to select the right doctor, explore effective and individualized treatment options and implement preventive strategies.


Not all physicians are keen on the term “pain management.” For Dr. James KellerShabrokh, it’s a bit of a misnomer. “I believe that the name ‘pain management’ has led to a misunderstanding of my specialty. Most people associate medications with pain management and oftentimes steer clear of even an initial consultation at a pain management office for fear of the prescription of narcotics and/or additional medications,” he says. 

KellerShabrokh’s specialty is physical medicine and rehabilitation, also known as physiatry. His approach is influenced by the passion for musculoskeletal medicine he developed during his residency, where “our primary focus was on understanding musculoskeletal function, helping patients regain lost function and overcoming pain using whatever modalities were available to us” – not just medication.

At Comprehensive Pain Management ( in North Phoenix, Tempe, Avondale, Peoria and Prescott, KellerShabrokh and his team treat patients with a holistic mindset, encouraging exercise, physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatment. “Injections are also an integral part of my practice and are very specific for the varying types of musculoskeletal injuries,” he says. “For low-back pain, this can be related to the joints of the low back, called facet joints or zygapophyseal joints, and treatment includes steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation or regenerative medicine injections oftentimes using platelet-rich plasma or sometimes even stem cells.” If the pain is related to disc issues and radiates down the legs, he might employ epidural steroid injections, regenerative medicine or intradiscal injections.

KellerShabrokh encourages people to research their options and find a physician who fits their needs. “Not all pain management is created equal,” he says. “Developing a relationship of trust with your medical provider is essential… Medicine is also an art, and art requires practice and continual learning on the part of the physician to improve upon their skills and to match the remedy to the patient.”


A large portion of patients assume that pain management consists solely of medications and injections. However, The CORE Institute ( pain management team works closely with its physical therapy and rehabilitation departments to maximize patient outcomes by creating treatment plans specific to each individual’s lifestyle and goals. 

The CORE Institute specializes in all areas of orthopedic and spine care and offers both surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Its specialists treat a wide spectrum of conditions including arthritis, back pain, joint pain, neck pain, neurogenic pain and more.

Pain management specialists at The CORE Institute suggest staying active as a form of pain prevention. However, if the pain is hindering you from exercising, it’s important to address the issue by seeking out management options. An array of trending treatments and technologies are now available. Spinal cord stimulation continues to be at the forefront and has recently expanded to include diabetic neuropathy and low back pain. Further advancements include targeting the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), which has proven to be more effective in treating certain conditions when compared to traditional spinal cord stimulators. 

The CORE Institute prides itself on its multidisciplinary approach, which includes a team of specialists who work together and communicate with each patient’s primary care provider to promote safety, efficiency and peace of mind. 

Ultimately, The CORE Institute has changed the way orthopedic care is offered to the community, through consistency and commitment to excellence, innovation and learning.


Pinnacle Pain & Spine joined OrthoArizona in September 2023 to create OrthoArizona Pinnacle Pain, furthering their mission to provide exceptional quality and compassionate musculoskeletal care to the Arizona community. At OrthoArizona Pinnacle Pain ( in Scottsdale and Chandler, director Dr. Matthew Crooks and his team “treat every patient individually, from professional athletes and Olympians to weekend warriors to parents and grandparents.” The most common issues they treat are neck and low-back pain. “People do not realize that the routine daily neck and low-back pain they live with – and maybe have tried introductory therapies like massage and physical therapy to treat – are very treatable with safe and effective pain management procedures.”

Crooks says the key to pain management is sleuthing out the source of the pain and going after it. “There are many options to actually target the pain at the root cause and address it, not just cover it up,” says the double board-certified, fellowship-trained interventional pain specialist. “And allow people to move forward, back to the things that they enjoy doing. There are many options in pain management, other than pain medications, that restore activity and function and get patients back to their lives. You do not have to live in pain anymore.”

Popular treatments include radiofrequency nerve ablation, which involves deadening nerves that sense pain in the neck or low back. “It significantly reduces neck pain and headaches, as well as low-back pain, for long periods of time,” Crooks says. Another option is vertebral augmentation to address fractured vertebrae in the spine. “These minimally invasive procedures [vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty] are done on an outpatient basis,” he continues. Physicians place medical cement in “a painful, fractured vertebrae, eliminating the pain, and allowing return of normal height and posture.” 

Crooks says these approaches are nothing short of life-changing for patients who have been living in continual agony. “These procedures can reduce the pain for long periods of time – several months or even several years, combined with rehabilitation,” he says. “In many cases, with rehabilitation after procedures, the pain is gone and does not return, ever.”

The Pain Experts of Arizona ( recognize the far-reaching effects of pain and are dedicated to helping you reclaim your life. Pain can disrupt every aspect of your life, impede your work and strain your relationships. Pain is not an isolated experience. It reverberates through your life, touching everyone around you. When a parent is in pain, it affects their children. When an employee is in pain, it impacts their colleagues and their ability to perform. When a friend is in pain, it resonates within their circle.

“We founded The Pain Experts of Arizona with one mission,” says Dr. Ahdev Kuppusamy. “We believe that by helping one person manage their pain, we are creating a ripple effect of relief. When we alleviate someone’s pain, we are not just helping them. We are enabling them to be parents again, to return to work and to enjoy their relationships. This is what drives everything we do. With every person we help, we are, in essence, changing the world one patient at a time.”

What sets The Pain Experts of Arizona apart is their commitment to individualized care and mission-driven approach. Rather than relying on pain medications, they focus on identifying the root cause of your pain and employ minimally invasive procedures that can relieve your pain at the source. They see their patients as people, not just cases. They listen, understand and work with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your life. They also prioritize patient education, empowering you with knowledge about your condition and treatment options and enabling you to make informed decisions about your care.

The journey to pain relief begins with a personalized pain management plan. Because pain is a unique experience for each individual, the doctors at The Pain Experts of Arizona tailor their treatment plans to your specific needs. Their team of board-certified professionals takes your medical history, lifestyle and personal preferences into account to devise a plan that offers the most effective relief for you.

At The Pain Experts of Arizona, they understand the significance of taking a comprehensive approach to pain management. They work closely with other medical specialties, including chiropractors and physical therapists, to ensure we address every facet of your pain. By reducing and correcting some of the underlying issues, they can also help to make sure your pain does not come back. While prevention is the best strategy, if pain has already set in, early intervention is key. Seeking professional help at the onset can prevent the pain from becoming chronic and significantly reduce its impact on your life.

“The field of pain management is continually evolving, with new advancements offering hope for better pain control,” says Dr. Michael Wong. “From regenerative medicine like stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, to neuromodulation devices that disrupt pain signals, we stay at the forefront of these advancements, committed to offering our patients the latest and most effective treatments.”

Pain does not have to dictate your life. With The Pain Experts of Arizona, you can reclaim control and resume living life on your terms. Experience the difference that their mission-driven, personalized approach to pain management can make. Join them in changing the world, one patient at a time.

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