Pain Management Practice

The interdisciplinary Pain Management Practice, developed by Professor Phyllis Berger, uses both conventional and ground breaking methods by investigating and developing the use of electrical currents and acupuncture specializing in the treatment of pain, stiffness, dysfunction and also uses acupuncture and specific electrical currents to treat infertility.

Phyllis has a particular interest in treating Complex regional pain syndromes (CRPS) a subject on which she has published many articles and continues to research not only new pain control methods but also ways to enrich your life.

Phyllis is a Physiotherapist and Acupuncturist, who has been involved in pain clinics since 1994. She is convinced of the role of stress in pain and has developed innovative approaches to chronic pain management.

Phyllis has attended and lectured at many medical congresses throughout the world which enables her to expose you to the most up-to-date international concepts in rehabilitation and pain control.

The modern concept of physiotherapy is holistic in that it encourages exercise therapy instead of prolonged rest. This strengthens the muscles and stretches the joints, and most importantly improves circulation and oxygenation to injured regions, reduces the number of physiotherapy treatments required, prevents an acute problem from becoming chronic and ultimately affects and improves the quality of your life.

Phyllis is a proponent of blocking pain with electric currents and acupuncture, relieving anxiety, recognizing and releasing past emotions and increasing pain-free movements with exercise, especially exercise that is enjoyable and improves compliance and persistence.

For many years, Phyllis has focused her attention on the brain and its complex chemical interactions and electric circuitry. She has done research on certain newly developed electric currents that affect the brain and that have been found to increase pain-relieving substances and reduce inflammation in the body.

Phyllis has researched and published articles in medical journals, both locally and internationally, on other newly developed electric currents that are applied to the body, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, Panag a radio-frequency device, sub-liminal microstimualtion and modified direct currents.

Phyllis recognises that both the patient and the therapist do not always understand the importance of the state of mind, desires, beliefs and expectations of the patient in pain management. She believes that starting this journey by learning to combine different treatments and tapping into the body’s inherent knowledge and ability to heal itself will bring many more patients to a destination of pain relief and control.

I started my career in Physiotherapy by being interested in acute orthopaedic trauma, which brought me into contact with patients with complex regional pain syndromes (CRPS). I then developed an interest in chronic pain conditions both spinal and peripheral and found myself in the realm of pain management.

From my earliest experiences of treating patients, I realised that the addition of specific electrical currents and acupuncture expedited treatment and was more effective than physiotherapy alone. I then investigated and studied various types of electrical currents, specifically transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, functional electrical stimulation and more recently developed currents that produced positive changes in inflammation, mobility and oedema and those currents that had a consistently positive impact on hyperaesthesias.

I joined Prof E A Shipton’s Rand Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic in 1997 and gained more experience in treating many types of pain conditions often not normally encountered in general practice. On Prof Shipton’s advice, I joined the International Association for the Study of Pain to increase my knowledge of pain management and then commenced a period of self-study from 1996 to the present day, attending many international courses and congresses.

I was invited in 1996 to join the Council of the South African Pain Society as it was then known and published many articles and two studies (one full research and one pilot study) in the SA Journal of Anaesthetics and Analgesia (including other SA journals) and in international journals (Pain Reviews 1999, Pain 2007).

I attended a meeting in Bad Aibling, Germany with Professor Christian Barnard, among others to present my research on modified direct current and in Freibourg, Germany at a pre-congress course of the International Association for the Study of Pain, Vienna 1999.

I have represented South Africa and presented lectures as the sole physiotherapist among clinicians at the First Pain in Africa Congress in Alexandria, Egypt 2000 and in Tripoli, Libya 2006 at the Second Pain in Africa Congress. I have also presented a workshop for the International Association of Acupuncture for Physical Therapists (IAAPT) in Hong Kong 2005 and then continued into China with a group of physiotherapists from different countries to visit hospitals and universities from Guangzhou to Shanghai to increase my experience in this field.

I have presented courses on pain management at the Pretoria Academic Hospital and in Johannesburg for physiotherapists. I was selected in 2007 to be on an international task force for the International Association for the Study of Pain for the Global Year against Pain in Women until October 2008 and have subsequently published a Fact sheet and co-authored a review article on Pain in Women with HIV/AIDS and had an article published on this subject on the World Confederation of Physical Therapists website, among other activities to publicise this project.

I have published three books, the first, Action Potential Currents 1999. The second, the Journey to Pain Relief was first published in South Africa 2003 and then revised and published in the USA 2007. This book was written to help both patients and physiotherapists as pain management is a team approach and I intended the book to replace courses on pain management and provide physiotherapists with a useful tool that assists them in managing many types of pain conditions. I knew that the book would also become a great source of comfort to pain sufferers and enable them to learn to help themselves and also assist their care givers/therapists in providing the best treatment options.

I have also presented lectures and workshops in Australia, USA, Israel and New Zealand from 1999. I present a lecture three times a year for Hospice, South Africa to educate Palliative Care Nurses with non-pharmacological pain management.