Meet our Docs: Interventional pain management specialist Kathryn Glynn, M.D., joins Wyoming Pain Center
By Kristy Bleizeffer Feb 23, 2021
Wyoming Medical Center welcomes board-certified pain medicine specialist Kathryn Glynn, M.D., to Wyoming Pain Center in Casper. Dr. Glynn is a board-certified anesthesiologist with more than 13 years of experience in medicine.
Goals of pain management medicine include reduced pain, increased mobility, control over pain management, and reduced dependency on medications. Wyoming Pain Center at WMC East Campus specializes in treating chronic and acute pain using a multidisciplinary approach.
Learn more about Dr. Glynn in the interview below.
Where did you grow up and how did you become interested in medicine?
I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. My dad worked three jobs, but his primary job was a homicide detective in the city of Chicago. My mom worked a bunch of odd jobs after we got a little bit older. I don't know that there was one particular moment that drew me to science or medicine. But when I was in sixth grade, we took a trip out to Arizona, and I remember telling my dad that I was going to be a physician. It just sort of stuck. I was the first one in my family to go to college, and I didn’t have any family members in medicine.
What attracted you to anesthesiology and then pain management?
Anesthesia allows one to practice both the art of science and medicine. It’s much like being a critical care physician in the operating room. Hyper vigilance is our motto. It's a very cerebral profession in a way, not unlike critical care or internal medicine, but there is a procedural aspect as well. Those include epidurals and spinals as well peripheral nerve blocks to help with post- operative pain. The combination of the aforementioned things are what drew me to the profession. Ultimately, most anesthesiologists I encountered seemed happy both professionally and personally and I thought that was a good sign.
After about 10 years of working at a Level 1 Trauma Center as an anesthesiologist, I desired more interaction with patients. My interaction as an anesthesiologist then was pretty limited to a preoperative exam, then putting patients to sleep and waking them up. Pain management is a subspecialty of anesthesia that has allowed me more patient interaction as well as the ability to explore even more of the procedural aspects of medicine.
Tell us about your training.
I completed four years of medical school at Creighton University College of Medicine in Omaha. I completed my internship in Arizona, then three years of residency in anesthesiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa. I then practiced for 10 years as an anesthesiologist at a Level 1 Trauma Center outside of Chicago. In 2017, I completed a year-long interventional pain management fellowship at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas.
How do you explain to patients what pain management specialists do?
Well, it’s tough but you’ll often hear me say that I don't have fairy dust. I can’t fix something like chronic pain immediately or even completely. But, there was a pretty elegant study that was done of over 800 chronic pain patients that revealed that if you could reduce someone's chronic pain by 30 to 40 percent, you really gave them a lot of their life back. In fact, many patients will tell you a 30- to 40-percent reduction of pain changed their lives completely. So even though patients still have pain, they were able to live with it and cope with it better. And most chronic pain patients would welcome that degree of pain relief wholeheartedly.
The specialty of pain management and its treatment focus really involves a biopsychosocial approach to taking care of a patient with chronic pain. It’s not one size fits all. It's very much a multi-modal approach to their illness, otherwise you will leave much of that pain untreated. A lot of times, chronic pain patients really benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or psychology visits to learn better coping skills or learn how to retrain their brain to focus on something else.
Pain is such a subjective experience in which people sometimes feel very trapped and very isolated. Treating chronic pain in a multimodal fashion will address that component.
The biological part of pain can be managed through medications, procedures and physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care. But, if you just throw all your eggs in one basket and treat the biological component, you may miss the other 66 percent of what may be playing a role in their pain. In some cases, it's a lot easier if it's an acute pain, such as a nerve root impingement, and the patient just needs surgery or a procedure. In that case pain specialists may focus solely on the biological causes.
Where does a pain management specialist fit in the continuum of care?
Cases where patients have been referred by other physicians, such as primary care providers or surgeons, work well in pain management because the patient history and underlying causes have been sorted out to some degree. The more information I have at the first office visit, the faster treatments proceed. In other words, if somebody's been worked up by their primary care provider and they have, say, an L5 nerve radiculopathy on the left, and if they have an MRI to support that along with the clinical findings as well, it’s easier and quicker to develop a plan of action.
Oftentimes, I get referrals from neurosurgeons to see if we can reduce pain with more conservative therapies instead of surgery. In some cases, patients have had pretty severe pathology and injections or even just physical therapy resolved it and allowed them to defer or postpone surgery.
What are your impressions so far of Wyoming Medical Center and the medical community in Casper?
Everybody so far has been great. I’ve spoken with Drs. Matz and Clyde, neurosurgeons who I expect to work closely with, and they have both been very welcoming . Certainly everyone from office managers, HR and other support staff have made this an easy transition for me.