By: 21 June 2022
Pain management specialist in Focus – Dr Leia Rispoli

Leia Rispoli, MD, is a double-board-certified interventional pain management specialist and physiatrist.

She embraces an empathetic approach and keen ability to listen to her patients while delivering them exceptional care. Employing innovative, non-surgical interventions and evidence-based treatments, she is able to restore her patients’ function and quality of life by reducing or eliminating their severe or prolonged pain. She recently joined the team at DISC Sports & Spine Center in the USA


JAP: As a specialist in pain management, could you tell us more about your experience and training background in this field?

LS: My primary training is in physical medicine and rehabilitation, or physiatry, which gave me a great foundation for musculoskeletal and sports medicine, as well as clinical training in how to optimise a patient’s function and mobility. My subspecialty training then continued with a pain medicine fellowship, which added a layer of interventional treatment options such as injections and minimally invasive procedures.


JAP: What drove you to choose pain management as a career?

LS: I enjoy helping patients with complex cases and being a good listener to those who are hurting and seeking answers and options. I also enjoy the comprehensive approach to each case. Most treatment options have several angles of care that are all important for maximising a patient’s improvement.


JAP: Over the past two years, it is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. What has been the greatest impact within the healthcare and pain management industry?

LS: Many people are transitioning to a work-from-home life and, for some, a more sedentary lifestyle, which has a tendency to increase the level of neck and back pain issues, mostly due to neck strain, poor posture and poor ergonomic setup at home.


JAP: What’s the best part of your job?

LS: I love seeing people get better — helping so many people that are suffering!


JAP: … and the worst?

LS: The worst would be those few cases that you try everything for, and still struggle.


JAP: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

LS: The biggest highlight so far has been the excitement of starting my own practice and all the learning and adventures that come with this move!


JAP: Are you currently involved in any research?

LS: Yes! I am working on a few papers regarding male and female pelvic pain and some promising treatment options.


JAP: Please can you tell us more about the research and what it could mean to patient experience and outcomes?

LS: Pelvic pain is a very complex and complicated diagnosis to treat. Many patients have tried and failed first- or second-line treatment options, and many feel hopeless or embarrassed, since this tends to be a more intimate, personal and difficult topic to discuss for some. We have developed a promising algorithm in the treatment approach to these patients, with very successful clinical outcomes so far.


JAP: You recently joined DISC Sports & Spine Center. How do you plan to redefine what’s possible in pain management within clinical practice?

LS: I’m hoping to add to DISC’s baseline ethical and evidence-based approach and offer patients in pain a resource of quality care and bedside manner.


JAP: How can you help benefit patient experience and outcomes?

LS: You can benefit both the patient experience and related outcomes by paying close attention to detail and really listening to patients and their specific goals.


JAP: Are you planning to attend any training events in 2022 or 2023? Either online or in person?

LS: While I try to attend one conference per year, either in pain medicine or physiatry, I don’t have anything definitively planned for this coming year yet!


JAP: If you weren’t a physiatrist, what would you be?

LS: If I weren’t a physiatrist, I would probably be an interventional radiologist. And if I hadn’t gone into medicine, I would probably be a park ranger.


JAP: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

LS: Keep doing what you’re doing — and enjoy every moment!


JAP: If you were Health Minister for the day, what changes would you implement?

LS: I would increase mental health care access and resources.


JAP: Away from the clinic, what do you do to relax?

LS: I never can! I have a 17-month-old and another baby on the way! Mom never gets to relax.


JAP: How do you think the future looks in the field of pain management and the patient experience, and what are your predictions for the decade ahead?

LS: Pain medicine is a great field and has much opportunity for growth in the areas of natural and regenerative medicine, as well as minimally invasive procedures.