The Team Behind FirstHealth Neck & Back Pain

Brian Thwaites, M.D., James Winkley, M.D., Rob Thomas, PA-C and Steve Collins, PA-C

Back in the mid-’90s, the Sandhills was in need of an interventional pain management clinic. Brian Thwaites M.D., (far right) of Pinehurst Anesthesiologist Associates stepped up and collaborated with FirstHealth (then Moore Regional Hospital) to start FirstHealth Back and Neck Pain. They started small, borrowing what space they could find in the Ambulatory Surgery Center and pulling resources from other areas of the hospital, determined to build the operation they knew this community deserved.

Dr. Thwaites came to Moore County after an anesthesiology residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and serving as a staff anesthesiologist at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas. He now works alongside seven physicians, three physician assistants, and one adult nurse practitioner. Years later, Dr. Thwaites and his team have grown into one of the most highly accredited pain centers in Central North Carolina.

Their goal is to stop chronic, debilitating pain or reduce it to the greatest extent possible. They view themselves as a diagnostic center first, working through thorough evaluation to find the root cause of pain problems.

Because back and neck pain can stem from a multitude of causes, it sometimes takes a combination of therapies to get pain under control. For this reason, the clinic serves as a central point for clients’ pain management plans by providing access to a complete range of pain relief options in an environment that is both comfortable and compassionate.

FirstHealth Back and Neck Pain treats a wide variety of nerve and mechanical pain issues, primarily related to the neck, thoracic spine, and lower lumbar spine, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, lumbar and cervical radiculopathy, and sacroiliac joint problems. However, other pain issues that are chronic in nature, such as knee arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, cancer related pain, and postherpetic neuralgia, can be treated by the clinic physicians.

Depending on the source of the pain, treatments administered through Back and Neck Pain include steroid or pain medication injections, neurostimulation, radiofrequency interruption of nerve connections, selective nerve blocks and other treatments designed specifically to alleviate chronic pain. The newest and most cutting-edge treatment option offered at FirstHealth is Coolief, which uses radio frequency to relieve osteoarthritis knee pain in a safe and non-invasive treatment plan.

Partners in the practice, James Winkley M.D., (second from left) and Dr. Thwaites are both double board certified in anesthesia and pain management. Additionally, both doctors share ties to the Army, as their medical careers started while serving in uniform. Dr. Winkley is the proud father to 9 children with his wife, Jeannine, and is the Bishop at the Pinehurst Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After serving in the Navy, Steve Collins (far left), PA-C worked in family medicine and emergency for 23 years in Richmond county. He has been with FirstHealth since 2014.

Rob Thomas (second from right), PA-C is a Pinehurst local who attended PA school at Methodist University. He has been a practicing physician assistant for the last decade focusing on acute and chronic pain syndromes. Like his colleagues, he is passionate about offering a multimodal approach to pain management.

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