New practice mixes pain management, addiction treatment

Drs. Svetlana Zaydman and Ashwin George opened Valley Pain Relief and Wellness Center in Burnsville on May 5. (Photo by John Gessner)

Two doctors have opened a joint practice in fields with unfortunate connections — pain management and addiction.

Drs. Svetlana Zaydman and Ashwin George opened Valley Pain Relief and Wellness Center May 5 at 2428 E. 117th St. in Burnsville.

The doctors, who are a couple living in Eagan, say their unique blend of complementary specialties is a response to the growing problem of addiction to pain-killing drugs.

Zaydman is in charge of pain management, and George handles the addiction treatment. Zaydman previously worked as medical director at Britton Pain Center in St. Paul. George, who earned his board certification in addiction medicine last year,  is also a doctor at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

“Being exposed to her, I saw that a lot of patients that come to her for pain are actually having addiction problems,” said George, 38. “She doesn’t want to see them, but these people need help.”

Zaydman said she’s able to identify addicted patients through drug testing and prescription-monitoring procedures.

She refers those patients for addiction treatment. Addiction specialists are in short supply in the Twin Cities, the doctors said.

“Sometimes it takes two, three weeks to get an appointment,” Zaydman  said. While a handful of Twin Cities clinics have doctors certified in both pain management and addiction treatment, Zaydman said the dual-doctor approach is unique.

“I decided that I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades and do everything,” she said. “I’ll just give my patients a specialist who can do that.”

Pain management is personal for Zaydman, 50, who grew up in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and was certified in Russia to practice pediatrics. She completed another round of medical school in New York in 2005 and earned her physical medicine and rehabilitation certification in 2010.

Zaydman was an athlete — a sprinter and a fencer — when she tore a quad muscle at age 15.

“I was told I could never run again,” she said.

But a coach nursed her back to health, which inspired her interest in pain medicine.

“He gave me exercises and stretches, and I was competing. He was not even a physician. ... I just like to give people their life back,” said Zaydman, who runs daily.

Pain is a consequence of injury and illness whose many treatments, she said, range from epidural steroid injections — a specialty of hers — to managed use of narcotic drugs.

“If she thinks these patients need more addiction treatment rather than pain management, then she sends them to me,” George said.

“And sometimes patients want to get off the medication,” Zaydman added. “They say, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I need help.’ ”

Valley Pain Relief and Wellness Center is located in the Cliff Cove town office complex south of Highway 13 near Cliff Road. More information is at valleypainreliefandwellness.com.

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