Pain Relief Requires a Team Approach

POTSDAM / GOUVERNEUR -- Pain can occur as a result of a variety of conditions: many times chronic pain results from overuse, strain, repetitive use, or trauma to muscles, ligaments, bones, and joints. According to the orthopedic and sports medicine specialists affiliated with the St. Lawrence Health System's two hospitals in Gouverneur and Potsdam, NY, a team approach from multiple disciplines is the best way to find relief.

The members of the medical/surgical team available through Gouverneur Hospital or Canton-Potsdam Hospital include orthopedic surgeons Robert Cummings, MD; Jeffrey Haasbeek, MD, FRCSC; Thomas Kneifel, MD; Luc Perrier, MD; and John Savage, MD. Rick Finch, PA and Kristen Miller, PA, physician assistants with special training in orthopedics, provide consultations in Canton in the St. Lawrence Health System Medical Campus, where physical therapists specially trained in hand therapy are also available. Dr. Sheryl Movsas, pain and spine specialist, and Dr. David Pinegar, a specialist in disorders of the foot and ankle, round out the team. The team is the largest in the North Country.

Often, patients will start with a consultation. A consultation takes the patient's entire lifestyle into account, and requires a thorough review of the patient's medical/surgical history as well as a physical examination. Patients may then be referred for physical therapy. This is to ensure that non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical methods of pain relief have been tried first. Drugs to treat pain are prescribed where medically indicated and appropriate, and surgery is indicated only if the patient is physically, emotionally, and medically prepared for surgical intervention.

Sometimes, patients will be asked to take certain steps before surgery: losing weight, beginning an exercise regimen, or changing diet may be prerequisites to surgery both to increase the likelihood for the success of the surgery as well as to increase the likelihood that the benefits of surgery will be lasting. Prior to surgery of the joints, patients will be asked to complete a "joint surgery class," which provides education on steps patients can take prior to and after surgery.

Throughout the patient's interactions with St. Lawrence Health System's orthopedics and sports medicine program, the team works collaboratively to assess the patient's condition and needs. Experts agree that effective pain management is multidisciplinary and must be patient-centered.

For more information about pain relief relating to orthopedics and sports medicine, interested individuals may visit

About St. Lawrence Health System

St. Lawrence Health System was established in December, 2013 with the mission to improve health, to expand access, and to lower costs through coordination and integration of services. Encompassing several corporations, including Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, NY, and Gouverneur Hospital, Gouverneur, NY, St. Lawrence Health System also operates extension outpatient facilities in Antwerp, Brasher Falls, Canton, Colton, DeKalb Junction, Edwards, Gouverneur, Massena, Norfolk, and Potsdam. The largest employer in St. Lawrence County, with just over 1,400 employees, St. Lawrence Health System has 130 full-time medical staff members and annual net operating revenues of $180 million.