Find a Whole New World at the Golden Gates

Nov 1, 2021, 04:30 AM by Maged Guirguis, MD


San Francisco collage


Cite as: Guirguis M. Find a whole new world at the Golden Gates. ASRA News 2021;46. 

After facing challenges that not only tested our preparedness for a pandemic but also our strength, resilience, and unity as health care providers and fellow humans, our world is different. Although for a little while, it seemed as if the world stood still, the field of pain medicine grew exponentially with new technologies, procedures, and patient care guidelines.

As the world opens again after its long pause, we are developing a new perspective on medicine, from diagnosis to treatments. Health care providers and patients are adapting to a new normal that involves digital medicine, remote medical device programing, and more.

ASRA’s 20th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting, held in person from November 18–20, 2021, in San Francisco, CA, will address those concerns and more. Participants will get innovative content through a comprehensive and progressive curriculum covering the latest interventions, including psychological and novel pharmacotherapeutics, advanced procedures, and more.

Keynote Speakers

Our featured guest lecturers include experts from different specialties, such as Dr. Brennan Spiegel, the director of Health Services Research for Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, CA, who leads a multidisciplinary team that investigates how digital health technologies (eg, wearable biosensors, smartphone applications, virtual reality, social media) can strengthen the patient-doctor bond, improve outcomes, and save money. Dr. Sam Eldabe, one of the top physicians and research expert in the field of neuromodulation, is joining us from the United Kingdom to discuss the reality of using novel neuromodulation devices as salvage therapy. Dr. Andreas Rauschecker, a neuroradiologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will discuss artificial intelligence and advanced image-processing techniques to investigate the brain and its appearance in relation to disease. Dr. Prasad Shirvalkar, also from USCSF, is teaching us about deep brain stimulation for treatment of refractory chronic pain and transmagnetic stimulation and neuromodulation therapies for headache. Additionally, Dr. Oscar de Leon-Casasola is being honored at the Excellence in ASRA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, November 20, with the Bonica Award for his contributions to science and clinical care, particularly in the areas of cancer pain management.

Those keynote speakers complement an outstanding lineup of internationally renowned ASRA faculty and experts from around the globe discussing new and interesting topics in research, innovation, and evolution of pain medicine practice in the new world we are experiencing.

Highlighted Program Content

Refresher courses cover the latest updates on treatment of neuropathic pain, use and understanding of newer types of neuromodulation such as closed loop stimulation and glial cell activation, updates on headache management in adult and pediatric patients using cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality, and discussions on the current status of the opioid epidemic in the wake of a pandemic.

A broad complement of parallel sessions will hit on multiple key areas, including novel treatment for nonsurgical back pain, updates on cancer and pediatric pain management, and advancements in the field of peripheral nerve stimulation.

The plenary sessions focus on the pros and cons of new technologies, debating whether they decreased patient and practitioner burden while helping manage cost or increased burnout, resources, and financial burden. They will also discuss risk mitigations and guidelines for common pain procedures. The last plenary is dedicated to discussions on lesson learned from the pandemic and the effect of national crises on population management, with focused topics on diversity and equality.


Problem-based lunch-and-learn sessions allow for relaxed and direct conversation with leading experts on high-value practical topics for the pain provider, such as how to implement the use of buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone in your practice; telemedicine and second opinion virtual medicine programs for pain management; patient selection for decompression procedures; and how to manage complications and conduct independent medical examinations.

Exciting interactive sessions designed to stimulate discussion include advanced topics such as applying artificial intelligence to neuroimaging, developing guidelines in pain medicine, using genetic and molecular biomarkers for pain, and creating a pathway to wellness in the current stressful environment of this new world for both patients and health care workers.

The highly attended physical exam skills special session is back by popular demand—but don't overlook other outstanding topics, including:

  • Interpreting imaging and electromyography
  • Controlled substance risk mitigation, including cannabis
  • Burnout identification and resilience building
  • Infusion therapy for treatment of chronic pain and headaches

The very popular ASRA-ASA Practice Management Portfolio closes the loop on Saturday with the latest in business fundamentals, quality improvement methods, negotiation, nontraditional Income streams, using social media for marketing and patient awareness, and leveraging electronic medical records for efficiency and compliance with clinical quality measures.

To satisfy expansive interests, a variety of e-posters, abstracts, non-CME breakfast and lunch presentations, and exhibit hall booths are readily available, with a special new non-CME ASRA-endorsed evening session where ASRA President Dr. Samer Narouze will be moderating the newest groundbreaking research in pain management.

Workshops and Interactive Sessions

In addition to the main meeting sessions, the conference offers many hands-on workshops for ultrasound and fluoroscopy. Latest techniques in spine augmentation and treatment of vertebrogenic pain, spinal and peripheral nerve stimulation, conventional and cooled radiofrequency, regenerative medicine, craniofacial blocks, and percutaneous sacroiliac joint fusion are just a small sampling of valuable experiences delivered by our world-class faculty.

Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Program

Nonphysician providers such as physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) are important for our busy health care system, and we are excited about the growth of this part of our program. In addition to the dedicated PA/NP/nursing program, which now features medicolegal issues in pain practice and creative nonopioid treatments, participants can attend targeted, interactive sessions on intrathecal or spinal cord stimulation therapy and diagnostic imaging and a hands-on physical exam workshop.

Resident and Fellow Program

Residents and fellows have full access to the main meeting lectures as future colleagues in pain medicine. The very popular resident- and fellow-geared procedural workshops on fluoroscopy and ultrasound-guided procedures will fill up early, so register as soon as possible. Residents and fellows can also enjoy a beverage while networking with other trainees and members of the Association of Pain Program Directors during the Resident/Fellow and Pain Program Directors Meet and Greet from 6–7:30 pm on Friday, November 19, 2021.

Most Important: ASRA Is a Big Family,
and We Are Here to Have Fun and Network

And don't forget special events like the popular Wine and Bubbly Networking Reception and Exhibit Hall Grand Opening, which will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 5:15 pm. Finally, plan to stay for the Saturday Annual Meeting Celebration from 7–10 pm on November 20, 2021, where faculty and participants can choose to chill or dance while enjoying the best view of the Golden City at the Cityscape Skybar. San Francisco offers a little bit of everything, and its beautiful winter weather lends an atmosphere for novel networking and lively social activities.

Hilton Union Square View


Dr. Maged Guirguis


Maged Guirguis, MD, is the chair of the 20th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting. Dr. Guirguis is the system chair of the Interventional Pain Management Department at Ochsner Health System, an associate professor at the University of Queensland-Ochsner Clinical School of Medicine, and a clinical assistant professor at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.


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