How Dr. Uel Alexis and the Spine and Pain Institute of New York offer hope to pain-sufferers throughout the Tri-State Area
by Taylor Hersh • Photos by alex baretto
Before he became Dr. Alexis, Uel Joseph Alexis was born in a small town in Texas, then raised in Houston by his Ethiopian mother and Creole father, and a gentlemanly style resonates in his current demeanor. He gives his parents credit for his humble behavior, as well a restless commitment to patients.
One of six qualified anesthesiology-trained pain physicians at the Spine and Pain Institute of New York (SPI), Dr. Alexis admitted to an intimidating schedule.
“There are days when the workload can feel overbearing, but then I take a step back and gain a true perspective at how fortunate I am to help people in need and to make a real impact in their lives and community,” he said. “This pushes me forward.”
Dr. Alexis was educated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas, and Mount Sinai Hospital. He is double-board- certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.
The Spine and Pain Institute of New York started with Dr. Kenneth Chapman, who provided quality medicine stemming from his training at Columbia University and the Cleveland Clinic to an under-served area in Staten Island. Nine years have passed, and it is now one of the fastest-growing pain management practices in the state.
“I initially met Dr. Chapman and Dr. [Vishal] Patel of SPI at the New York New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians Annual Scientific meeting in 2014. My team had actually won the scientific award for our novel research in using radiofrequency to treat knee pain before and after surgery. Dr. Chapman was aware of the research, we had a healthy discussion about it, and things basically kicked off from there.” “Pain management is a field in medicine dedicated to treating acute, subacute, and chronic pain. It combines advances in neurosurgery, orthopedics, and sports medicine to provide an alternate choice between medications and surgery,” explained Alexis.
A transformational change is occurring in medicine, shifting the focus on managing pain, with a priority on improving a patient’s quality of life in order to each regain control, and return to everyday activities, ideally without the need for surgery and the long recoveries it often requires. The burdening nature of chronic pain can affect a patient’s quality of life, interfere with his or her ability to perform basic activities of daily living, and ultimately result in physical disability. This often also creates a hardship on a family, and restricts the ability for sufferers to reach their true potential.
“My goal is to holistically look at each patient, identify maladaptive behaviors that are a distraction, educate them so they can make the best decision for their future, and provide attainable goals that can be reached via the multitude of tools in this field and other areas of medicine,” Alexis explained.
In the field of pain management, each treatment is specific to its condition, and is far more complex than the distribution of opiates. Most interventions use a small needle to carefully place medicine in areas of the body generating pain. Alexis’s specialty is indicated for any patient who has pain not controlled with over-the-counter medications or rest, or pain that is affecting quality of life.
At SPI, care is offered to those experiencing such conditions as diffuse arthritis pains, lower back and/or neck pain, and radiating pain in arms or legs that causes weakness, cramps, tingling, numbness or a burning sensation. Doctors there can also assist patients with cancer-related and post-surgical pain, shingles, atypical facial pains, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
A critical goal in any program is to increase functionality; this can be addressed with simple work ergonomics training, or by improving musculoskeletal biomechanics that can further decrease stiffness and increase range of motion, even in patients who haven’t enjoyed normal movement in quite some time.
“As an institute, we hold ourselves to a higher degree,” Alexis offered. “We are board certified in our fields of training, stay current on the latest research, teach other physicians across the country and internationally, and stay relevant by remaining in the forefront of this field, and most importantly, we are committed to our patients.”
The firm operates six offices in the city (two in Staten Island, two in Brooklyn, one in the Bronx, and one in Manhattan), and is affiliated with institutions such as Lenox Hill Hospital, North Shore University Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and Staten Island University Hospital (North and South).
“I started with one office in Staten Island…good news travels fast,” said Alexis with a smile, adding that his mother still spurs him to expand upon a career of service through volunteering, or simply going out of his way to “put a smile on someone’s face.”
“Quality medical care, gentle hands, and a supportive and friendly staff combine to yield good results,” the doctor explained.
Spine and Pain Institute of New York
1513 Voorhies Avenue / 718.427.2110 188 Montague Street / 718.427.2070 spinepainy.com