Dr. Scott Stayner has taken over as Nura Pain Clinic's medical director of ambulatory surgery as its centers try to work through a backlog of chronic pain patients after a pandemic-related shutdown.

Stayner, a pain medicine physician with a doctoral degree in bioengineering, said his focus is on making services as efficient and safe as possible with Nura's expanded and updated Edina clinic reopening. Nura's Coon Rapids clinic resumed in-person consultations last week.

Stayner decided to specialize in pain management after his grandmother suffered from debilitating back pain despite surgeries and high doses of opioids.

The University of Minnesota Medical School graduate comes to Nura after operating a pain management practice in Billings, Mont. He said he is a proponent of the holistic approach developed by Nura founder and CEO David Schultz.

Nura offers chronic pain evaluation, medication management and interventional procedures and surgeries, along with in-house physical therapy and behavioral health counseling.

Stayner is a Bountiful, Utah, native who earned bachelor's degrees in Japanese and material science and engineering and a doctorate in bioengineering from the University of Utah.

When he was younger, he volunteered for two years in Japan and worked part time as a string bassist.

Q: What has gone in to resuming surgery-center operations?

A: We've done a pretty good job of streamlining our processes, even more than what they were prior to the COVID shutdown. We've been able to increase capacity in spite of several challenges. We're performing essential procedures with the intent to try to keep patients who would otherwise seek care in the hospital or in the emergency room for their pain out of that setting so the hospitals will be free for the things that they can only do, which is treating COVID patients if there's another surge. We're trying to see patients that really need to have these things done so they can continue to work and continue to function.

Q: What sets Nura apart?

A: From my perspective, the most underrecognized aspect of this practice is not the interventions that we do or the medical devices we offer but it's the holistic approach that we have for managing pain. We have psychologists on board. We have physiatrists (rehabilitation and physical therapy physicians) as well as people to help with medication management and the highest-end procedures. It's the sort of place that you're taught about in your training as a fellow but is very hard to implement.

Q: How does chronic pain affect people in the workplace?

A: We see the patients who are most debilitated and are not able to work and function at least when they start to see us because of their pain. The approach we take is, it's not just one device. It's not just one procedure. It's everything. It would be nice if we had medications that eliminate chronic pain but we don't. If we can use a mixture of medications that are not harmful but can reduce the pain enough that they can start being productive, [then] they can start getting back to a routine and feel good about themselves and they can do quite well.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.