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Health: Chronic Pain Relief Comes to Town
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The nagging, persistent discomfort of chronic pain can often leave sufferers frustrated, hopeless and even debilitated for months or years. It is precisely this frustration that pain management physicians Dr. John Barsanti and Dr. Stephen Long seek to remedy.
“I want to impact the lives of patients who are suffering daily and feel they have little to no hope of relief,” says Dr. Long. This impact has recently expanded from the physicians’ practice in Richmond
to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, where Dr. Barsanti and Dr. Long
began seeing patients two days a
week this January.
“We have always maintained a good relationship with Riverside Tappahannock Hospital,” explains Dr. Barsanti. “We received referrals for patients who had not found a solution to their pain following a surgery or injury. By seeing patients in Tappahannock directly, we are able to reach a large area where pain management is underrepresented.”
“This is a great opportunity to serve patients where there is a true need for our services,” adds Dr. Long.
Learning Locally

Both physicians grew up in Virginia and remained in the Commonwealth for their education. Growing up surrounded by physicians, Dr. Barsanti graduated from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he also completed an anesthesiology residency and pain management fellowship. Dr. Long also attended medical school at VCU, as well as completed an anesthesiology residency and pain management fellowship.
“I enjoyed the challenge of determining how to block a patient’s pain in complicated situations,” says Dr. Barsanti of his transition from anesthesiology to pain management.
Dr. Long was attracted to following
up with patients and “the continuity
of care not possible with an anesthesiology specialty.”

Innovative Solutions for Chronic Pain

While medication may be used as part of a patient’s care plan, Dr. Barsanti notes that the focus is not on pharmacologic treatment of chronic pain. “Our goal is to find non-narcotic methods to treat pain,” adds Dr. Long.
Instead, both physicians employ the latest clinical techniques to help relieve patients’ pain and discomfort. One such treatment is spinal cord stimulation, used for a variety of pain problems, especially back pain following a previous back surgery. An electrode is place in the epidural space around the spine. An electrical current travels through the electrode, blocking pain from specific areas of the body.
Typically, patients undergo a trial spinal cord stimulation treatment for about a week to determine if the treatment is effective. If patients do experience relief, a permanent system can be placed, allowing patients to program, adjust and recharge the equipment.
“The results of this treatment can be truly remarkable,” shares Dr. Barsanti. “One young mother was able to get a good night’s sleep for the first time in years.”
Another innovative technique frequently used by Drs. Barsanti and Long is radiofrequency waves. “The heat waves target nerves causing back pain,” explains Dr. Long. “The treatment creates a semi-permanent block, which can last up to 1-2 years.”

Shifting Focus

The goal of Dr. Barsanti and Dr. Long is to correctly identify the source of a patient’s pain, which helps determine the most effective treatment plan for each individual. “When we know that a patient’s pain is caused by a bulging disk or a joint, we can then develop a comprehensive plan,” says Dr. Barsanti. “We know if we need to treat inflammation or other symptoms that could be adding to the pain.”
To treat inflammation, the physicians may use injections containing a long term local anesthesia with a steroid. Some patients experience pain relief for several years in between injections.
Both physicians are eager to assist residents of the Tappahannock area. Understanding the true nature of pain management, Dr. Long says his mission is simple: “If I can make a patient smile once or twice in our office, it may be more than they do all week.”
 For more information on the Riverside Tappahannock Pain Center
and Dr. Barsanti and Dr. Long, call
(804) 443-6143.