Advanced Pain Care: An Interview with Dr. Mark Malone

by | Jul 6, 2021 | General Medical News, Issue 124, Top Doctors of the Week | 0 comments

About Dr. Mark Malone Dr. Mark T. Malone is a Board-Certified pain specialist currently residing in Austin, TX. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin,...

About Dr. Mark Malone

Dr. Mark T. Malone is a Board-Certified pain specialist currently residing in Austin, TX. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, he attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Malone completed his residency and training in anesthesiology at the Baylor College of Medicine and a fellowship in pain management at the Texas Orthopedic Hospital in 1998.

Ever since he founded his private clinic, Advanced Pain Care, in 2002, Dr. Malone has strived to improve the quality of care in chronic pain, helping innumerable patients regain their quality of life with state-of-the-art treatments, especially for chronic back pain. Furthermore, he sought to instill his approach in the minds of young students as a clinical instructor at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2017, Dr. Malone became a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery and Perioperative Care at UT Dell Medical School.

Aside from holding a double-certification in anesthesiology and pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology, Dr. Malone is a proud member of elite anesthesiology and pain management-related associations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the International Spinal Intervention Society, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, and the Travis County Medical Society.

When outside the clinic, Dr. Malone enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, water-skiing, cycling, and traveling.

Dr. Mark Malone – Advanced Pain Care

Letting Go of the Drumsticks to Become a Physician

Hailing from the Lone Star State, the young Dr. Malone followed a career path quite different from his current interests, a career path focusing less on his scientific and more on his artistic self. A promising drum player, Dr. Malone earned a scholarship from the Baylor School of Music, a prestigious institution within the homonymous university.

However, the future had quite a different path in store for Dr. Malone, who decided to rethink his career trajectory and shoot for the stars in a completely unrelated field: “I got some testing done, and it turns out I’m pretty good in science. So I changed careers and changed my major into pre-med, which is what I really wanted to do. And, you know, the rest fell into place over the years.” Dr. Malone shares with Top Doctor Magazine.

From Physician to Patient

As he settled into this new and exciting career path, Dr. Malone found himself at home, eager to exhaust the knowledge on everything related to pain management. After graduating from the Baylor College of Medicine as a trained anesthesiologist, he immersed himself even more in this medical field and completed a pain management fellowship at the Texas Orthopedic Hospital in 1998. Once he completed his training, Dr. Malone was more than happy to return, at his fellow physicians’ invitation, to the Austin area and set the foundation to his own pain management clinic, Advanced Pain Care, in 2002.

“Then, one day, I lifted something heavy. I felt a pop in my back, fell to the ground, and my back was never the same. And I became a chronic pain patient.” Injections, physical therapy, and everyday medications became the norm for Dr. Malone in treating his chronic back pain. At the time, surgery seemed the only solution, to which he reluctantly consented because of his fellow physician’s pleas.

The Wonders of Spinal Cord Stimulators

But the actual cure to his chronic pain didn’t lie in the two surgeries that he underwent. Four years ago, Dr. Malone discovered the wonders of spinal cord stimulators, devices engineered to interrupt the pain signals that travel along the spinal cord to the brain, and decided to give them a try. “So I had my partner, Dr. Michaud, install one of these in my own back, and I was instantly better, almost a hundred percent better.”

It’s unbelievable how “a small device about the size of an Oreo cookie,” as Dr. Malone calls it, can relieve patients from so much chronic pain. “It’s a revolution in pain medicine. We call it a cure, and it essentially is the cure. There’s never been a cure for chronic back pain before.” Dr. Malone’s belief in these devices is so profound that the Advanced Pain Care clinic became one of the top spinal cord stimulator providers in the country: “I’m told that we’re the number one provider in North America. We do about 200 of those (i.e., spinal cord stimulators) a month.”

The Problem of Failed Back Surgery

Dr. Malone was one of the lucky patients who discovered the benefits of spinal cord stimulators and used them to undo the unsatisfactory back surgery results. The same applies to one of his favorite patient cases, the case of Chester Jones, a former combat soldier who underwent two failed back surgeries before resorting to a spinal cord stimulator. Today, Mr. Jones is an avid promoter of spinal cord stimulators and an Advanced Back Pain ambassador.

It’s no coincidence that numerous patients that put their faith in spinal cord stimulators come from the same failed back surgery background as Mr. Jones does: “The biggest patient population for the stimulator is what we call failed back surgery. That means you had, you had some tremendous pain, you were motivated to get back surgery, and it didn’t work. Either it stayed the same, or it got worse. So about half of all our stimulators are given to failed back surgery patients.”

Defining a Failed Back Surgery

But why do we call it a failed back surgery? Does it have something to do with medical malpractice? On the contrary, Dr. Malone points towards the surgery’s futility in the first place: “It does not mean technical failure or any mistake. The only mistake is that the patient was never going to get better by surgical intervention. So, you operate on a patient hoping that it will make their pain better, but you don’t know in many cases.” In a bleak tone, Dr. Malone mentioned several studies that put the number of failed back surgeries up to 50% of the total number of back surgeries, an excellent incentive to research alternatives before committing to an unclear outcome.

Telemedicine and New Techniques in Treating Chronic Pain

Jumping from Mr. Jones’ story to more recent matters, Dr. Malone and his practice managed to brave the hardships brought by the COVID-19 pandemic while continuously providing essential chronic pain care to his patients. “We maintained all of our doctors and nurses and assistants and managers and laboratory workers and everyone; we didn’t lay off a single person in our whole company of 500 people.” Dr. Malone tells us.

Behind this extraordinary feat lies the ability to provide telemedicine to patients, something unheard of before COVID-19 in the world of chronic pain: “The medical board has never allowed telemedicine for pain management before because pain medicine is seen as something that needs to be regulated.” About 50% of the total number of patient visits went to telemedicine in the blink of an eye. This did not affect Dr. Malone’s practice at an administrative level since insurance programs were more than happy to pay for telemedicine. However, patients still prefer to come to Advanced Pain Care in person, proof of the solid patient-physician relationship cultivated in Dr. Malone’s clinic.

Furthermore, Dr. Malone is expanding his array of techniques to alleviate chronic pain in other troublesome body areas as well. As such, he mentioned his intention to help relieve patients of chronic headaches, which are more than ordinary in today’s society: “We’re starting to use spinal stimulators for chronic headaches, which I think is important because there’s a huge population of chronic, severe headaches out there.”

Always Remember to Give Thanks

Advanced Pain Care has become one of the best-reputed chronic pain management clinics in the U.S., a token of Dr. Malone’s long years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices. However, as a parting reminder, Dr. Malone reminds us that behind every successful physician lies an entire team of hardworking doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and managers who helped Advanced Pain Care become what it is today: “If I’m a top doctor, it’s because I have a wonderful group working with me, 500 dedicated professionals, and we do more spinal stimulators than anyone else in the country.”

Here at Top Doctor Magazine, we would like to wish Dr. Malone the best of luck in improving chronic pain management even further. If you’d like to learn more about his mission, make sure that you check out his website here.

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