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Robert Bulger, M.D., Southwest Pain Group

Best Doctors in Collin County: Pain Management 2011,2012

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Some of my friends have been referred to a pain doctor. What kind of doctor is this?

Dr. Bulger, with more than 25 years of experience, says the answer to this question is more daunting today than in the past. “For more than 60 years, the only doctors in this specialty were anesthesiology pain doctors who have been at the forefront of this specialty,” he says. “Because pain is a such a common complaint, its treatment has begun to attract the attention of a broad spectrum of practitioners from fields including nursing, chiropractic, physical medicine, psychology, and others. Because so many medical specialties are showing increasing interest in treating pain, it can be challenging to find the right provider for your specific concern.”

What type of therapy is offered?

“We work closely with physical therapy and chiropractic, and we embrace nonsurgical treatments when possible,” Dr. Bulger says.  “Treatments include IV infusion therapies to treat migraine/fibromyalgia, nutritional and hormone analysis, nerve block therapy, epidural therapy, neurostimulation, as well as daily pain medication management, if indicated.”

Why an anesthesiologist? I thought they only put people to sleep for surgery?

“While this is true, most people don’t know the first pain doctor was an anesthesiologist. Pain management was literally founded and developed in the late 1940s into a defined specialty by an anesthesiologist named John J. Bonica. During his service in WWII, Dr. Bonica was called upon to help treat injured soldiers. While many physicians are qualified to perform nerve blocks safely, anesthesiologists are the nerve block and epidural experts because it is the only specialty where these skills are used and refined on a daily basis. Therefore, it was logical that Bonica would be asked to begin using and developing these techniques. In 1953, he authored the first pain management textbook, and even today, more than 90 percent of all the medical textbooks on pain treatment, nerve blocks, and epidural blocks are authored by anesthesiologists. In a real sense, we wrote the book on treating pain.” 

“Dr. Bulger is the only pain management specialist in Collin County trained by Reed to offer the ON-Stim Plus™ therapy for migraine patients.”

My doctor says an epidural might help my back. I thought those were only used during childbirth?

“Your doctor is referring to an epidural cortisone injection, often called an ESI. Most people are aware an anesthesiologist can safely perform epidurals for the purposes of providing anesthesia for surgery or to ease the pain of childbirth. However, since the epidural space is adjacent to discs and spinal nerves, and anesthesiologists are epidural experts, they are often asked to place cortisone into the lumbar or cervical epidural space where it can reduce pain and inflammation that are often part of spinal pain.”

What new therapies should I know about?

“The most exciting therapy in pain management is in the area of migraine treatment. The use of occipital stimulation, pioneered by Ken Reed, M.D., has proven to be an amazing advance. The Reed Procedure, developed in Dallas, is the first non-narcotic, medication-free
treatment for headaches and is an option for patients who have not found relief by other methods. Dr. Bulger is the only pain management specialist in Collin County trained by Reed to offer the ON-Stim Plus™ therapy for migraine patients.”

Dr. Robert Bulger and the physicians of Southwest Pain Group offer a comprehensive full-time pain medicine clinic, as well as injection therapies at multiple centers for patients in Dallas, Richardson, Addison, Plano, Frisco and Irving area. Dr. Bulger has been honored as a “Best Doctor in Dallas” by D Magazine annually since 2007. For more information on Dr. Bulger and his practice,Southwest Pain Group, visit www.southwestpaingroup.com.