When Dr. Farayi Mbuvah moved to the United States from his native Zimbabwe a decade ago, he was surprised to see how many people in the U.S. were prescribed opioids for chronic pain. It wasn’t like his home country didn’t have people suffering from the same chronic conditions, but he was floored that opioids seemed to be the default treatment here. What he saw was a cycle of dependence that led to addiction. “[Opioids] were not really helping patients the way they thought they would,” he said. “So I decided when I went into anesthesia that I wanted to help people’s pain during surgery, but I wanted to continue to help them beyond just the operating room.”
That led to his focus on non-opioid treatments for chronic pain. This month, Mbuvah helped Conway Medical Center open the CMC Pain Management Center in Myrtle Beach. Mbuvah works with patients to navigate the complexities of pain and find treatments to help people work and play, even improve their sleep — usually through minimally invasive interventions.
So what types of treatments are offered at the CMC Pain Management Center?
Mbuvah uses a variety of options. There are nerve blocks and trigger point injections, Botox for chronic migraines or Lidocaine/Ketamine infusions for neuropathic pain.
He frequently performs knee injections for arthritis, and he offers epidural steroid injections for bulging discs or pinched nerves. “Offering an alternative with a lot of cutting edge, FDA-approved, evidence-based injections, and therapy, I think, is the way to go right now,” Mbuvah said. “And that’s what I offer my patients.”
Mbuvah is familiar with the Grand Strand. He worked in a local private clinic for three years before joining CMC, and he saw firsthand the devastation caused by the opioid crisis. “A lot of [patients] are not doing too great on opioids,” he said. “Their families are broken down. They’re not working the way they used to. Even if they wanted to feel better, just the amount of opioids they were on was just shocking.”
Now in his treatment, conservative opioids are a last resort, not the first choice for chronic pain. And that’s why he’s glad to be able to offer a broad array of options to patients. “These people need an alternative,” he said. “People need help with chronic pain. … But we need something safer.”