The Apex of Care
Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians’ Harvard-trained specialists take a thorough approach to helping patients lead fuller, pain-free lives
by Phil Gianficaro

Pain: Although it’s a small word, it can be a big and frighteningly complicated problem.

Jabbing, gnawing and often relentless, pain keeps all too many people on the sidelines rather than involved in the activities they love. Pain ramps up stress and worry. Pain keeps the good life well out of reach.

Like old tree roots, the myriad causes and debilitating effects of physical pain are often hidden deep and far reaching. At Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians in Chalfont, practice co-founders Robert Kelly, D.O., and David Qu, M.D., take an uncommonly thorough approach to diagnosing the often complex and nebulous root causes of pain for all of their patients.

Drs. Kelly and Qu, who pride themselves on being “the answer guys,” utilize a unique functional approach to the treatment of pain developed from years of training at Harvard Medical School. The doctors treat acute, chronic and neuropathic pain, as well as pain related to different kinds of cancers, by implementing noninvasive and rehabilitative therapies from head to heel.

Whereas other pain specialists tend to rely solely on the use of MRI technology to diagnose pain, these board-certified physicians delve deep into a patient’s medical history, physical exam and listen intently to each patient’s story. As a result, the doctors are able to not only effectively treat the symptoms but also attack the true cause of an individual’s pain, thereby leading to more successful long-term outcomes.

“When someone has pain, it’s important to know how it affects their ability to function in daily life, how it consumes their daily life, especially if it’s chronic pain,” says Dr. Kelly. “Dr. Qu and I don’t stick to one paradigm—i.e., injections or medications. Because we’re board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, what sets us apart is how we can make people function better and eliminate their pain.”

Drs. Kelly and Qu are double board certified in pain medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation, also known as physiatry. In addition, both doctors have mastered a number of minimally invasive pain interventions, cutting-edge alternative treatments, rejuvenating therapies and medication management at accredited prestigious pain medicine specialty fellowships—at the University of Pennsylvania for Dr. Qu, and Cooper University, for Dr. Kelly. 

“It’s important for patients to know who they’re getting as a doctor,” Dr. Kelly adds. “We have board certifications in the highest accredited levels that all doctors might not have.”

Personalized, Sophisticated Care
Drs. Kelly and Qu met in 2008 while in residency training at Harvard Medical School, and the pair proceeded to collaborate on various research and clinical projects. Both took a path to pain management fellowships and ended up in the Philadelphia area. There—Dr. Kelly at Cooper, Dr. Qu at Penn—the seeds for founding their own practice in the Philadelphia suburbs took root. In June 2003, their efforts became reality.

“While at Harvard, we each had discussions with patients about offering their latest strategies to pain management in the suburbs to those who complained about having to go from the suburbs to the city for these unique treatments,” says Dr. Kelly, who was raised in Willow Grove. “It made us consider what we could do as doctors outside the city.”

When they were in the process of creating Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians, the doctors knew they wanted to do something different, something unique. They sought to create a leading center of medical excellence where patients have access to the leading experts in pain management who possess the diagnostic skills that can only come from their world-class training. Unlike other pain management centers, they also wanted an environment in which each patient is under the consistent care of a single practitioner throughout the course of their treatment, ensuring a highly personalized experience.

“We’re younger physicians who come from high-level training,” says Dr. Qu. “And being younger, we don’t fall into the habits of doing the same for all our patients, as some others might. We have more sophisticated training.

“For example,” he continues, “a standard patient with lower back pain would go to a doctor, who would decide only to use an MRI to find the pain. We know there can be five to 10 pain generators causing pain, and most of those generators are based on a patient’s history. If pain is due to a disc issue, it’s usually due to bending. If it’s arthritis, it’s when you’re standing. We look at various things to find out where the pain is. If the MRI corroborates, great, but in terms of MRIs in patients over 40, you’ll see multiple degenerative changes. But that doesn’t mean that is the root of the back pain.”

A Holistic Approach
At Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians, patients dealing with life-altering pain benefit from the holistic approach of Drs. Kelly and Qu.

“It’s our pain center’s approach to treating them that is unique,” Dr. Kelly says. “We don’t just rely on injections or medication management. There are so many more facets than that to pain management: emotional, nutritional, exercise aspects and family interrelations, in that the pain can be so debilitating it affects the patient’s family and friends. We encourage family and friends to be involved in the treatment. It’s important to know the patient and the physicians aren’t the only ones involved.”

This approach, which includes the patient’s family in the treatment process, is an invaluable puzzle piece to diagnosing, treating and eliminating one’s pain.

“I see the patients and their families as members of our community I can help,” Dr. Qu adds. “The pain of the patient affects them as well.”

Most pain experienced by patients is due to age-related changes, according to Dr. Qu, who is also an acupuncturist, as is Dr. Kelly. Back and shoulder pain is usually caused by age or wear and tear caused by sporting activities. He suggests most people find it difficult to think about why they have pain and if they’re experiencing nerve pain or joint pain: “Pain is complicated. That’s why people need specialists.”

Drs. Kelly and Qu have firsthand experience with pain. Both sustained back injuries as rowers in college, and both were advised by doctors to have surgery. Both refused, conducted their own research and opted for a more holistic treatment approach, relying on the body’s natural healing ability. Both recovered with flying colors.

“I wish I had a doctor figure out what was wrong with me back then,” Dr. Qu says. “I wish I had someone figure out how to make my pain go away. I wish there was someone like that.”

Now, with Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians, there is.

Highpoint Pain & Rehabilitation Physicians
700 Horizon Circle, Suite 206
Chalfont, PA 18914

Photograph by Allure West Studios