The Pain-Free Life
The Pain-Free Life
In the growing field of pain management, Ocala’s own Dr. YiLi Zhou of Comprehensive Pain Management of North Florida leads the way in bridging the academic and clinical worlds. Fortunately for local residents, this means living with pain can finally be a thing of the past.
Inside the Ocala office of Comprehensive Pain Management of North Florida, a thick medical textbook sits in a glass display for patients to view. Neurology in Clinical Practice is open to chapter 48, “Principles of Pain Management.” Just below the headline is the author’s name—Dr. YiLi Zhou, a leading neurologist and specialist in the field of pain management. This is the doctor who restored Mrs. M.H.* to a pain-free life.
M.H. suffered from back, hip, and arthritis pain when she arrived at Comprehensive Pain Management of North Florida.
“He put his finger right on what was wrong,” she recalls of her first visit. “He’s just been a miracle for me. He’s very knowledgeable and has worked at the best hospitals.”
Dr. Zhou is, in fact, a world-renowned pain specialist. After completing his residency at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, he worked as a pain fellow at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Center—Harvard Medical School and then served as director of the Jackson Memorial Hospital Outpatient Pain Clinic at the University of Miami for two and a half years. He moved north to Central Florida with his family in 2005 to open his own private practice, and today, Comprehensive Pain Management of North Florida has three busy locations—Ocala, Gainesville, and Lake City—where he sees thousands of patients every month. The practice’s patient volume has increased by 50 percent each year since its opening, a testament to patient satisfaction.
M.H. is among them. She was immediately impressed with the dedication of Dr. Zhou’s entire team, which includes board-certified anesthesiologist Dr. Stephen Irwin and three physician assistants.
“They understand your pain here,” she says. “What’s so nice is that he doesn’t drag it out. You don’t have to come back many times.”
Non-surgical, minimally invasive, and efficient treatment is at the heart of Dr. Zhou’s philosophy of “patient first, quality first.” Around 80 percent of all of Dr. Zhou’s cases involve back pain, and spinal injections are the most common form of treatment he uses to alleviate it.
“As a pain physician, my first goal is to find the pain source, then to take the patient’s pain away with the least amount of treatment or procedures,” he explains. “In the old days, you needed three injections in a row because they were often not in the right spot. Now, we may only need one or two injections because we are more accurate. We put the medication right next to the nerve roots where the inflammation is.”
In fact, Dr. Zhou recently treated a local patient’s debilitating back pain with one injection. Much to the patient’s surprise, a two-week follow-up appointment wasn’t necessary because the pain had not returned.
“People appreciate my honesty,” he says. “I tell them I’ll schedule another appointment in two weeks. If you have pain, come in. If you don’t, cancel it.”
Dr. Zhou regularly treats pain related to cancer, headaches, sciatica, joint ailments, disc herniation, and car accidents. It is only after his usual 14-hour day is over that the physician retires to his writing and research, a critically important part of his career, he stresses. He has been featured in numerous medical publications, including the Clinical Journal of Pain and The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook for Pain Management. Dr. Zhou also recently co-authored an article with Dr. Irwin for the British Journal of Medical Practitioners—“Back Pain: How to Avoid Surgery.” Several of these articles are on display in his practice’s waiting rooms for patients to read.
Dr. Zhou is also actively involved in the academic activity at the University of Florida and has given the end-of-year talk on the progress of pain management since 2006 for the Pain Connection, a group of area pain specialists, UF professors, and UF medical students. By being an active member of the academic community as well as a private practitioner, Dr. Zhou can bridge the gap between cutting-edge academic research and the daily practice of medicine.
“I gave a talk last year at an American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians meeting regarding quality assurance—how we can take it from theory to everyday life,” he says. “That’s how we make sure we do a good job for our patients. Because when you see a patient walking out of the office smiling, that’s the best reward.”
It’s an experience M.H. can understand well. In fact, recommending Dr. Zhou to her family and friends isn’t a question at all.
“I already have,” she says with a smile, “to many people.”
*Patient’s initials used to protect privacy
Outstanding Credentials of Dr. Zhou
•Trained in Harvard Medical School
•Board-certified in Pain Medicine and Neurology/Psychiatry
•PhD in Psychology
•Author of numerous books and journal articles on Pain Management
•Former Director of Jackson Memorial Hospital Pain Clinic, U. of Miami
•Winner of Physician Recognition Award, American Medical Assoc.; 2003
•Distinguished Physician Award, Florida Medical Assoc.; 2004, 2006
Comprehensive Pain Management of North Florida
Locations in Ocala, Gainesville, and Lake City
3200 SW 34th Avenue, Ste. 502
Ocala, FL 34474