Specialty: Pain Medicine
Title: Director of the Department of Pain Management
Hospital: White Plains Hospital
As Director of the Department of Pain Management at White Plains Hospital, Dr. Sabrina Shue has helped thousands of patients find relief with some of the most technologically advanced methods in pain management. But it was Shue’s connection to age-old traditions of Eastern healing philosophies that initially drew her to study pain medicine. “I’m Chinese, and, because of my cultural background, I became interested in the idea of combining Eastern and Western approaches to help people find relief from chronic pain,” she explains. After completing her residency in anesthesiology at Harvard, and a fellowship in pain management, Shue returned to Harvard for her certification in acupuncture.
Shue also is a registered marijuana physician with expertise in cutting-edge spinal treatments. “My background has given me the ability to be open-minded and take a holistic approach, which is important when you are dealing with chronic-pain patients who need help finding something they have not yet thought of or tried,” she says.
Any exciting recent methods that have helped your patients eliminate back pain?
One new procedure, called spinal-cord stimulation, involves placing a device into a patient’s spine, sending electric current through it. The result is that their brain feels a pleasant tingling sensation instead of pain. Kyphoplasty is another newer procedure, in which we put a needle into the patient’s collapsed vertebral bone and inject cement into the area to make the bone stronger. This procedure takes about two hours and relieves most, if not all, of the pain almost instantly. In a recent case, the patient came into my office using a wheelchair and walked out of my office that same day.
Any tips for maintaining a healthy spine?
I urge people to pay attention to their lifestyle to reduce risk of spine and joint problems later in life. Specifically, I urge people to maintain a healthy weight, which will reduce stress on joints and spine, and to exercise in moderation. Too much and too little are equally bad on the body!
How has Westchester’s opioid epidemic impacted pain medicine?
When I first started working in Westchester, there wasn’t any focus on the issue of opioid addiction. That has all changed. New York State’s creation of I-STOP [the Internet-based system, which tracks opioid prescriptions with the intent to reduce the number of deaths caused by addiction] has helped us identify some problematic patients in ways we were not able to do so in the past. Patients have also become more conscientious about narcotic addiction, and many of my patients will say, “Dr. Shue, I would like to stay away from narcotics and use them only as my very last resource.”
And how about medical marijuana?
I’m an advocate for medical marijuana. There can be side effects, as with anything, but the danger of overdosing on marijuana is almost none. With medical marijuana, I’ve helped many of my patients get to the point where they can either stop or greatly reduce the amount of narcotics they use.