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Medical Staff Profile: J. Tobias Musser, M.D.

Q & A with Dr. J. Tobias Musser, M.D., Physiatrist, Shepherd Pain Institute

Q: What drew you to the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (physiatry)?

A: Its breadth. It is a field that encompasses many other areas of medicine, including neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and rheumatology. The field also involves nutrition, wellness, physical fitness, kinesiology and mental health. With my interest in holistic, mind-body medicine, I chose physiatry because it interlaces all of these specialties into one. As it is an ever-evolving field, my “job description” evolves in parallel, allowing for progressive exploration.

Q: What are some of the most promising new treatments in interventional spine and pain medicine?

A: PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy offers a promising solution to accelerate healing of tendon injuries, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and even nerve injuries, naturally without subjecting the patient to significant risk. PRP is an emerging treatment in a new realm of medicine called “regenerative medicine.” We’re starting to see some very good evidence that shows its positive effects, which involves using one’s own platelets that have been separated from the blood, concentrated and then injected into damaged tissue under ultrasound guidance. Platelets contain a powerful cocktail of growth factors and attract one’s own stem cells to help dramatically accelerate healing and enhance tissue recovery. This therapy is being performed around the country, especially for elite athletes, and we hope to offer it at Shepherd Center soon once more solid evidence is published.The most exciting treatment in pain management is spinalcord stimulation, which is a type of neuromodulation used to treat chronic pain syndromes. This therapy involves implanting electrodes in the spinal canal in a minimally invasive surgical procedure. The electrodes interrupt pain impulses before they reach the brain and replace those impulses with a comfortable sensation. This therapy is effective for severe chronic arm, leg, low back and abdominal pain. It is especially effective for most pain complaints after spinal cord injury. We’ve been doing it at Shepherd Center for more than five years now, and I continue to be amazed at how effective it is for most neurologic-based pain. It has truly revolutionized the field of pain medicine.

Q: What is distinctive about the Shepherd Pain Institute’sapproach to treating chronic pain?

A: Our team. There are very few pain clinics in Georgia that offer a truly comprehensive and multi-disciplinary program that provides advanced comprehensive interventional pain medicine, manual rehabilitation therapists and doctorate-level pain psychological services. As physiatrists and rehabilitation providers, our approach to patient care is always focused on establishing positive doctor-patient relationships that lead to enhanced function and quality of life. Getting people back to a healthy lifestyle that includes work and play is important to us. Our treatment team is commited to providing the highest level of care and service to our patients. The ultimate goal of treatments is to reduce or alleviate pain through education, hands-on therapies, appropriate injection therapies using cutting-edge technologies, and coordinated rehabilitation and exercise therapies. We do this while avoiding the use of potentially addictive and dangerous medications. We do so by combining the most up-to-date traditional and alternative therapies to achieve maximal outcomes. You can't just fix someone's problem with a pain pill. You have to have a comprehensive approach, and that's what Shepherd Pain Institute is all about. Our physicians offer cutting-edge, innovative treatments. We are never afraid to think outside of the box, especially for patients in whom other pain interventions have failed. We're always looking for a solution for our patients' pain.

Interesting Facts: J. Tobias Musser, M.D.

• Dr. Musser and his fiancée are raising three Weimaraner puppies.

• He enjoys carpentry and photography.

• Dr. Musser enjoys traveling; he’s visited every state except for Alaska. He’s also visited every state park and vineyard/winery in Georgia and is gradually making his way to parks in surrounding states.




Interviewed by Jane M. Sanders
Photos by Gary Meek



Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.