Skip to Content
Pain Medicine

Pain Medicine

Treating Pain

As with most all physicians (and certainly Pain specialists), Dr. Williams is committed to managing pain so that patients can continue to live their everyday lives productively and without limitation. His goal is to improve quality of life and avoid the complications associated with acute and chronic pain. Certainly, no physician wants their patients to experience life limited by pain. But also as a Sports Neurologist, Dr. Williams is acutely aware of the importance of exercise, and physical fitness on the brain. He knows that the brain loves exercise and understand one of the most powerful approaches to optimizing and extending peak Neurological function is through regular and effective physical exercise. Dr. Williams wants to enhance the quality of life and extend what has been called the “Healthspan” – meaning not only the length of life (lifespan), but the length and duration of a healthy, active, and productive life. As a result, he is dedicated to treating pain so that my patients can exercise, which results in important contributions to Neurological health across the lifespan.

Approach to Pain Medicine

As a neurologist specializing in Pain Medicine, Dr. Williams’ approach to pain is based on a thorough knowledge of how the nervous system works and how the brain contributes to suffering from pain; not just how injections and pills can "cover" or "block" pain. Pain science reveals that "pain is in the brain." That is not to say that feeling pain is "all in your head." The brain is the most critically important organ in Pain Science because it is the brain (not the back, neck, foot, ankle, or other affected body part) that actually causes the hurt. Electrical signals from various body parts are transmitted to the brain. All kinds of electrical signals. The signals are from nerves transmitting information about heat/temperature, sharpness, cold, vibration, touch, pressure, and other sensory data. When those signals reach the brain (after having been transferred from on nerve to another within the spinal cord), the brain interprets them and produces an experience that is framed based on a wide range of varying factors:

  • Has this sensation been experienced before? Under what circumstances?
  • Is there evidence of injury? Would continuing the activity causing these signals result in damage or injury?
  • What else is going on at the moment? How important is this signal?
  • Is there associated fear, stress, anxiety, urgency?
  • Is there associated excitement, happiness, motivation, pleasure, or benefit?

The sum total of all of this and other kinds of information will result in the brain experiencing the signals as no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, or severe pain. The electrical signal itself can be localized as coming from specific body parts. The signal is (only) part of the input the brain uses to produce (or not produce) pain. But make no mistake. The experience of pain resides in the brain.


In order to successfully manage chronic pain, two things must be addressed. The first involves ascending pain pathways. These neural highways allow the brain to locate the source and sensation of pain and assign to it an emotionally unpleasant response. Equally important are the descending pain pathways. These neural highways descend from the central structures of the nervous system and serve to lessen the pain signals that are travelling up from the ascending neural pathways in the body to the brain.


Beyond addressing the ascending and descending pain pathways, also important to successful pain management for patients is an accurate classification of the pain they are feeling. After all, the best treatment depends largely upon matching it with the kind of pain that is being felt. Pain classifications generally fall into the following categories:

  • Neuropathic Pain – This type of chronic pain can have various causes but develops as a result of problems with nerve signals, usually resulting from damage to or diseases affecting the nervous system. Neuropathic pain is frequently felt as shooting or burning pain or tingling and numbness which is often accompanied by damage or injury to the nerve fibers themselves. This type of pain doesn't typically respond well to traditional pain medications like anti-inflammatories.
  • Nociceptive Pain – This type of pain is usually caused by tissue damage or injury – like a severe cut or broken bone, for example. The sensation of nociceptive pain is typically felt as a dull or sharp aching pain which can vary from mild to severe. This is a type of pain that can be temporary or chronic. Cancer and arthritis, for example, are chronic conditions that elicit nociceptive pain. However, unlike neuropathic pain, this type of pain does usually respond well to certain pain medications including anti-inflammatories.
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome – This is a chronic pain disorder. It is characterized by something called "referred pain," when pressure on sensitive points in the body's muscles causes seemingly non-related pain in other areas of the body. The pain is usually caused by repeated muscle contraction as can be the case in certain manual labor jobs, sports or hobbies.
  • Mixed Pain – In some cases, the chronic pain felt by the patient is a mixture of neuropathic and nociceptive pain. One example of mixed pain is migraine headaches. Mixed pain syndrome benefits greatly from a varied treatment approach.


While most people think of Pain Medicine as the use of drugs to minimize pain, that's really only part of what Dr. Williams uses in helping patients find lasting relief. From specific medication therapy to targeted alternative therapies that don't involve any medication and even more options, the field of Pain Medicine has never been as diverse as it is today.

  • Medication Therapy – Even when medication therapy is part of a patient's chronic pain treatment plan, medication management can be personalized by an expert. Traditional trial and error approaches can be replaced with rationale and logical options based on results of blood and genetic testing. Equally important is the pain medicine physician's responsibility to help restore patients to active, healthy and pain-free living after treatment. To do this, Dr. Williams provides assistance with wean and withdrawal from dangerous narcotic pain medications that may have been appropriate for acute pain but can cause significant side effects and problems when used chronically.
Continue Reading Read Less
  • Latest Health Insights
    Learn and explore our blogs and updates about sports neurology and pain medicine. Education is power & we are here to empower.
  • Visual & Audio Insights
    With years of practice and featured stories, watch our informative videos to gain a deeper understanding of our services and recent discoveries.
  • Recognized Excellence
    We are trained and sharing our knowledge. Stay updated with the latest advancements and knowledge from recent discoveries.

Contact Vernon B. Williams, MD, Inc. Today!

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy