Tag Archives: interventional pain management

Meet Ashot Kotcharian, MD: Interventional Pain Management Physician

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This is a continuing series of interviews we do with our physicians here at SOA. Dr Ashot Kotcharian is a Board Certified/Fellowship Trained Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician with a specialty in Interventional Spine and Sports Medicine. Dr Kotcharian has a strong background in interventional therapies for spine disease, complex pain syndromes, peripheral joint disease, and sports injuries. He served a most distinguished career in medicine as Assistant Professor of PM&R at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Learn more about what motivates him and how he spends his time when not at work.

What inspired you to become a physician? What inspired me to become a physician is the legacy of my great grandfather. He was my namesake. Although I have no memory of him I grew up hearing so much about him. Before me he was the only physician in our family history. I grew up listening to stories of his work and all the good he did treating those who were ill.  I knew early on that just like my namesake I too wanted to have a career that can result in good to others and help those who are ill. One of my younger sisters was born with epilepsy and has a learning disability. As a young boy I witnessed how much my parents cared for her. From city to city, hospital-to-hospital, my parents searched for the best medical treatment available. Seeing her go from one hospital to another, I wondered why nobody could help her become better. I watched my parent’s worried faces and how hard they tried to get answers and care for my sister. Once they were able to get her the care she needed and the doctors were able to get her seizures under better control the relief and joy it brought was immeasurable. This is what I wanted to do with my life.  I wanted to be able to take away peoples pain, fear and confusion and give them hope and relief.

Why orthopedics? While on my journey through medical school and residency training what I found myself enjoying the most was anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine. I learned how crucial good understanding and knowledge of anatomy can be in diagnosing nerve injuries, ligament tears, or radiculopathies. I developed a greater interest in diagnosing and treating patients who presented with muscle and tendon injuries, repetitive stress injuries, as well as back and radicular pain to name a few.

What do you love most about your job? I love how in this field the convergence of good anatomical knowledge, physical exam skill, and history taking can often lead to diagnosis without a need for invasive tests.  I get a satisfaction out of being able to arrive at the solution simply from what the patient told me and what I find on my physical exam. I get a satisfaction from knowing that I was able to treat disabling pain be it from back, muscle or tendon injury, without the need of invasive surgery.

What is your biggest challenge? Helping my patients through difficult diagnoses where treatment options are few and without a “cure” can definitely be challenging.  I would also say that being able to convey the importance of daily exercise, stretching, as well as proper posture is another big one.  While I have a lot of skills and tools with which to help stop pain, its what the patient is able to do on their own at home and in their daily life that can really keep the pain from coming back. If I weren’t an orthopedic physician I’d be either a martial art instructor or a university professor. Although, to be honest, this is a difficult question, because I can’t see myself doing anything else. I truly love what I do and I am very passionate about it.

Your proudest moment? My proudest moment is completing my fellowship training.  As I looked back at my journey through medical school, residency, and fellowship I knew I was becoming the person I wanted to be and the person I wanted my sister and great-grandfather to be proud of.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve travelled?  Why? It would have to be Rome.  The layers and layers of ancient history, the architecture, the people, and the food were truly amazing.

Any hobbies?  Activities? One of my biggest passions outside of medicine is martial arts, exercise, and mindfulness meditation. I have been a student of martial art since I was just a kid. Most of my studying and training has been in Taekwondo and I have earned a rank of 2nd degree black belt. I have also studied some techniques of hapkido, karate, kungfu, and Brazilian jujutsu while attending a mixed martial arts school. What I love most about martial arts is the respect, the discipline, the mindfulness, and the physical exercise.

What’s your next adventure? I don’t really know. I am pretty happy exploring the Gulf Coast for now.

Your guilty pleasure food? Oh gosh, too many probably.  Hamburgers, Chinese food, fried chicken, pizza, oh now you’re making me hungry!

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Sarasota Orthopedic Associates has three locations and offers same day/next day appointments when needed.  For more information on Dr Kotcharian or any of our physicians click here.

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Meet Dr Raye: Interventional Pain Management Physician

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We sat down with Sarasota Orthopedic Associates physician, Dr Justin Raye to learn what motivated him to pursue the medical profession and how he helps his patients non-surgically.

What inspired you to become a physician?

I always had an interest for human physiology as well as health/fitness, which led me to pursue a major in Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida. As an undergraduate I volunteered in multiple different health/medical related fields in order to experience each possible career first hand. I became confident I wanted to become a physician after working closely with physicians within the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute at UF. I felt I was able to align my interests for athletics and human physiology while having the opportunity to closely interact and affect the lives of those within my community.

My father suffered from heart disease and had to undergo multiple cardiac procedures under the care of multiple different medical teams. When I was in high school he underwent his second open-heart surgery at Shands Hospital in Gainesville Florida. I was able to observe the interaction between multiple physicians as they helped care for my dad with the common goal for him to have the most successful outcome. Everyone was very professional and caring as they put in long hours yet always took the time to make sure my family was thoroughly informed. I knew from that experience that one day I wanted to put in the hard work so I would have the chance to be a part of a team in order to help others live their best quality of life with their family by their side.

My mom is a nurse and has always been a positive influence as I expressed interest in a medical career. She has always been someone in my family to talk to with a common interest of medicine.

Why orthopedics?

The musculoskeletal system and the biomechanics regarding movement of the human body have always been strong interests of mine throughout my medical education. I enjoy interacting with others while applying my knowledge in order to help my patients improve their pain in order to improve their overall quality of life.

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy affecting someone’s life in a positive way whether it’s by performing a procedure to decrease their pain or by taking the time to listen to and educate them on something that will impact their health. I can’t express how much I enjoy hearing that someone is getting better or moving back to some of the activities they love because their pain is improved.

What is your biggest challenge?

I enjoy listening to my patients and clearly explaining to them their problem while at the same time making sure they understand all planned treatments.  I wish I could take even more time with each patient. I definitely do my best to answer all questions because it is important to me for my patients to be well informed regarding their care.

If you weren’t an orthopedic physician, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t an orthopedic physician I’d be a professional soccer player in Barcelona (HaHa). Realistically though, I would have probably further explored my undergraduate major of exercise physiology and looked into teaching at the college level or becoming a strength and conditioning coach for a university or professional athletic team.

Your proudest moment?

Graduating medical school. The hard work and sacrifices along the way make an accomplishment that much better when you finally achieve it.  I would never change a thing and ask myself, how can use my knowledge to improve the lives of others.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve travelled?  Why?

I recently travelled to St Lucia for a week to relax and take in the culture/beauty of the island. We were able to spend several hours on the beach but also had the opportunity to hike the Gros Piton Mountain, go snorkeling in the coral reefs, and sailing at sunset.  We are already planning our next vacation- Spain or a short Euro trip!

Any hobbies?  Activities?

I really enjoy playing and watching just about any sport. I grew up playing soccer and always enjoy a game of pick up basketball. I plan to get more involved with golf. I am a big Florida Gator fan and try to get to Gainesville for football games as much as I can.  I enjoy being outside whether it’s boating, fishing, paddle boarding or just spending time with family and friends.

What’s your next adventure?

I am always looking for a new place to explore and trying new things. My sister recently told us that Barcelona has been one of her favorite places that she travelled which is high on our list. I am open to all suggestions.

Your guilty pleasure food?

Pizza for sure. I also enjoy a good burger and BBQ ribs.

Dr Raye is an Interventional Pain Management Physician at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates and his treatment focus includes, but is not limited to, back/neck pain, sciatica, spinal compression fractures, headaches, and chronic regional pain syndrome. His therapies include RFA, SCS, and regenerative therapy among many other non-surgical treatments. SOA has three locations and accommodates patients on a same day/next day basis when needed.

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IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH GOLF?

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Frequent rounds of golf can cause a number of painful conditions from chronic overuse of the muscles and tendons. Back pain resulting from improper form is one of the more common complaints in orthopedics. First and foremost, having a golf pro will help avoid injuries as well as improve your game. Despite how hard you try, at some point you may fall victim to a back injury just like the golf professionals. When injuries do occur there are non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments to alleviate discomfort.

Simply avoiding the exacerbating repetitive task may alleviate pain, however, giving up your golf game is not practical. NSAIDs and the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) provide temporary relief but do not necessarily address the primary reason for discomfort.

The key to preventing a back injury is working with your golf pro to optimize the mechanics of your swing. Muscle stains can be caused by an over-powerful swing or an incorrect weight shift on the follow through, thus causing your lower back pain. When this happens and, if the condition is beyond the assistance of RICE and anti-inflammatories, there are non-surgical treatments we provide to get you back in the game.

Some of the many options are:

  • Radiofrequency Ablation, otherwise known as RFA, is a safe, effective means to treat pain from arthritic joints in the neck and low back. The procedure uses heat to disable only the sensory nerves that transmit pain impulses in the spine. Benefits of this therapy may last up to a year and sometimes longer.
  • Epidural injections are used to reduce inflammation and pain from nerve root compression in the neck and low back. In many cases this provides immediate relief and may provide relief lasting up to a year.
  • PRP, platelet rich plasma, is a conservative approach to natural healing. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient’s arm and placed into a centrifuge to separate the layers of blood. The PRP layer is then injected into the localized area to be treated. The purpose is to merge this technology with the body’s natural ability to heal itself quickly.

Dr Justin Raye is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician with a specialty in Interventional Pain Medicine at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates. While his treatment focus on pain is vast, some of the more common conditions include back/neck pain, herniated discs, sciatica, spinal compression fractures, and sports injuries. Treatment therapies include image guided injections, kyphoplasty, spinal cord stimulation, radiofrequency ablation, and regenerative medicine (Platelet Rich Plasma and Stem Cell Therapy). Dr. Raye sees patients in all three SOA locations. When needed, patients are seen on a same or next day basis.  Visit our website to make an appointment or call 941-951-BONE.

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