From Patient to Physician: Dr. Donohue’s Journey in Pain Management

In pain management, physicians approach their patients with clinical knowledge and years and years of studying and clinical training. Occasionally, a physician deeply understands pain’s physical and emotional toll due to personal experience, such as the case with Dr. Nick Donohue. Dr. Donohue, an Interventional Pain Management Physician at Sano Orthopedics, has a unique journey from experiencing excruciating pain to finding relief through a combination of medical intervention and self-discovery, which has equipped him with a remarkable perspective on treating his patients.

Childhood Pain

Dr. Donohue’s story begins in the third grade when he endured a sledding accident resulting in bilateral pars fractures. The intense pain from the injury led to him wearing a body cast around his chest and abdomen for a grueling two months. Though the fractures healed, his pain persisted throughout his teenage and early adult years.

As a young adult, Dr. Donohue faced shooting and radiating pain down both legs due to progressive spondylolisthesis caused by the previous fractures. Seeking relief, he consulted an orthopedic spine specialist who recommended surgery. Agreeing to the procedure, he underwent an L5-S1 posterior fusion.

Post-Surgery Challenges

Despite the surgical intervention addressing the leg pain, Dr. Donohue’s journey was far from over. He soon battled severe low back pain, a common complication known as “adjacent segment disease/syndrome.” In the years following the surgery, he endured discomfort while coping with his studies in medical school.

Relief at Home

During a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation rotation in medical school, he observed specific exercises being used to target the deepest layer of the abdominal core—the transversus abdominis muscle—and the posterior lumbar stabilizers (multifidi muscles). Intrigued by their potential, he incorporated these exercises into his daily routine and noticed an incredible improvement in his own low back pain.

Through consistency of these targeted exercises, Dr. Donohue experienced a substantial reduction in his pain, and he eventually stopped relying on injections for relief. Instead, he found relief in simple home exercises, enhancing his belief in their efficacy.

Dr. Donohue’s Approach to Patient Care

Having walked the path of chronic pain himself, Dr. Donohue approaches every patient encounter with empathy and understanding. He intimately comprehends the frustration of an elusive diagnosis and the complexities of finding effective treatments. His journey allows him to connect with his patients on a deeper level, knowing that pain is not just physical; it affects every aspect of a person’s life.

Dr. Donohue’s personal experience has shaped his medical philosophy, emphasizing the significance of a holistic approach to pain management. He recognizes that each patient is unique and deserves individualized care, encompassing medical interventions, lifestyle changes, home exercises, and emotional support.

Through his unique perspective, Dr. Donohue inspires hope and healing in the lives of those he treats.

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About Dr. Donohue

Dr. Nick Donohue is a board-certified and fellowship-trained interventional pain physician practicing at Sano Orthopedics. He specializes in osteoarthritis, back and neck pain, and interventional spine procedures.

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