Reducing the Pain of Patients and Surgeons: David Hanscom, MD

I want to introduce a remarkable orthopedic spine surgeon from the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle by the name of David Hanscom, MD. Dr. Hanscom is a seasoned spine surgeon specializing in complex revision spine and spinal deformity.  Over the years he has become knowledgeable about complex pain management. However, his passion for pain management extends well beyond the OR. He is the author of the forthcoming book entitled Back in Control:  A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain. You can read an overview of the book at his website: www.doccproject.com. (Note: DOCC stands for Defined, Organized, Comprehensive, Care)

Dr. Hanscom is a rigorous student of the issue of pain and its root causes. In many cases, surgery is only a part of the solution. More often, a framework of care is needed for treatment and long-term results. This framework includes elements like more adequate sleep, stress reduction, goal setting, medications and rehab. In other words, surgery is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution.

In addition to his ground-breaking approaches to pain management and recovery, Dr. Hanscom is also passionate about helping surgeons optimize their performance and deal with the inherent stress of the job. He conducts this effort through a program called Awake at the Wound and partners with a golf professional by the name of Dave Elaimy. Together the two apply athletic performance skills to surgery.  The goal is to improve the consistency of performance by acknowledging and “processing” the stresses inherent to the OR. In his seminars he shares his own battles with stress, fatigue and burn-out and provides practical tools for working through these issues and taking one’s game to a higher level…pun intended. All one has to do to understand the extreme pressure surgeons face is to look at the dire statistics of divorce and drug use in the profession. These are statistics Dr. Hanscom intends to help reverse one physician at a time.