Larry Smith was bedridden when he first visited Dr. Paul Leo in the spring of 2000. His pain began with a running injury that led to plantar fasciitis, later triggering fibromyalgia. The condition initially started in his feet and later spread to his hands. By the time he saw Dr. Leo, he could only sit up for about 20 minutes three times a day. At age 44, all Larry could do was eat, brush his teeth and bathe.
Dr. Leo prescribed oxycodone and other medications for Larry’s pain. The medication enabled him to begin swimming and working with a physical therapist. “After a year, I could sit up for six to seven hours a day at a time,” says Larry. “Over the years, I’ve gotten better and better.”
Aside from the pain relief he’s received, Larry appreciates Dr. Leo’s bedside manner. “He doesn’t just come in for five minutes,” says Larry. “He really listens.” Larry also recalls when his wife got breast cancer five years ago. “When Dr. Leo came into my room, he put his clipboard on the table, sat down and asked me, ‘How are you doing?’ He’s really interested in me as a person, not just as a patient,” says Larry.
Over the years, Dr. Leo has adjusted Larry’s medication, depending on his pain level. “When I’ve had an acute problem, he’s given me a little more, and when it’s better, he reduces the dosage,” says Larry. “If you’re straight with him, he’ll go to bat for you but he doesn’t like it if you screw around with your meds. I’ve kept my nose clean, and he’s treated me well.”
Larry has discussed other options with Dr. Leo, such as medical marijuana, but because it’s illegal on the federal level, Dr. Leo cannot use it concurrently with some medications, such as opioids. Instead, he has prescribed a muscle relaxer to help Larry reduce his opioid dosage by approximately 60 percent.
Though Larry spends much of his time in a wheelchair today, he is able to stand for a few minutes several times a day and even walk short distances inside his home. Plus, with the help of his wheelchair and a specially-equipped vehicle, he can even drive to his visits with Dr. Leo and elsewhere.
“It’s been a pleasure to see Larry improve and be able to walk and drive again,” says Dr. Leo. “Helping patients regain their quality of life is my reward in practicing medicine.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Paul Leo, call the Center for Spine and Orthopedics at 303-287-2800.
Use of Oxycodone
Oxycodone is an opiate medication that relieves pain by acting on the central nervous system. It should not be used to relieve mild or intermittent pain or when a non-narcotic pain medication works effectively. It should only be used to relieve severe continuing pain or when other pain medications don’t work or cannot be tolerated.
The risk of long term use of oxycodone is that people can become mentally or physically dependent on it. Plus, if stopped completely, withdrawal side effects are possible. Thus, the use of oxycodone should be managed by a pain management expert, such as Dr. Paul Leo. “I work with my patients to gradually reduce their dosage over time to prevent these side effects,” says Dr. Leo.
About Paul Leo, MD
Dr. Paul Leo is board-certified anesthesiology and pain management and fellowship-trained in pain management. Since starting his practice in Colorado in 1994, he has performed thousands of procedures, such as the implantation of intrathecal pumps, spinal cord simulators, radiofrequency and cryotherapy ablations, cervical and lumbar spinal injections, including epidural steroids and facets, joint injections, trigger points and dry needling. He also specializes in regenerative medicine, including PRP and stem cell injections. Additionally, he is qualified in medically-assisted treatment (MAT) for opiate addiction in conjunction with qualified therapy programs.
Education & Training
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, he earned his medical degree at State University of New York at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Following two years of surgical training, he completed an anesthesia residency and pain management fellowship at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan.
Philosophy of Care
Dr. Leo understands that pain affects each person different. He listens to his patients and then works to find the best solution to each patient’s problem. “I believe in a multi-disciplinary approach, combining complimentary therapies, mediations and interventional procedures when necessary,” says Dr. Leo. “My goal is to improve a person’s function, decrease their pain and improve their overall quality of life.”