MBBS (SG) • M.MED (ANAES) (SG) • FIPP • FAMS
Singapore Paincare Holdings warmly welcomes our new Consultant Pain Specialist in Singapore, Dr. Yoong Chee Seng. He will be joining Dr. Bernard Lee Mun Kam at our specialist clinics, Singapore Paincare Center and Paincare Center @Novena, from April 2021 onwards.
Dr. Yoong has over 20 years of pain management experience and is involved in the treatment of various types of pain, including acute pain arising from injuries and surgeries as well as chronic pain.
He obtained his MBBS from NUS School of Medicine in 1989, completed the MMed Anaesthesia (Singapore) in 1994, and obtained Specialist Accreditation in 1998. That same year, he went for his first training in Pain Management at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia . Upon returning, Dr. Yoong started the Acute Pain Service as well as the Chronic Pain Service in Changi General Hospital.
From 2006 until 2012, he was the Chief of the Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care. In 2008, he went for further pain management training at the Royal Perth Hospital under Professor Stephan Schug, with special focus on multidisciplinary pain management.
“I was motivated to be a pain doctor when I was a junior consultant, as back then, I often witnessed the unsatisfactory management of pain and the lack of available treatments to help patients ease their pain.”
There were many patients who suffered from pain in silence, often despite having sought treatments from various sources.
In the 1990s, there was a strong belief that the assessment and treatment of acute and chronic pain was inadequate, and more needed to be done.
“Patients suffering from pain, especially chronic pain, were often noted to be inadequately treated. Many were told it was part of ageing, and that nothing could be done… and to just bear with it.”
The pain treatments then were often restricted to either painkillers or surgery, which were often not ideal for many patients. We saw these issues and wanted to do something about it.
After my training in Australia, I pioneered the pain management team in Changi General Hospital. Since then, it has been fulfilling to be able to help patients who have pain problems.
Today, pain is recognised as an important symptom, important enough to be called the “fifth vital sign” together with blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate and temperature.
My approach is geared towards finding out what is causing the pain, so that I can target the pain at its source. I will then lessen pain either by decreasing the sensitivity of the pain nerves, or reducing transmission of pain signals, through the use of specialised injections and minimally invasive procedures. Patients can achieve good pain reduction of 70-100%, often in a sustained and long-lasting manner.
“Other than treating the physical aspect of pain, it is equally important to address the psychological and social aspects as well”.
Hence I treat pain in a holistic, multidisciplinary manner, by also exploring issues that my patients may face at home and at work to help them better. Furthermore, my team and I believe in explaining and empowering patients and their family with the necessary knowledge about pain.
“To treat patients as I would like my family to be treated; with respect and dignity.”
Personally, I think it’s important for doctors to keep reminding ourselves that each patient is unique. Different people perceive similar types of pain differently. It is important, therefore, to understand each patient’s individual situation to determine how best to help them.
We should care for our patients as we would like our own family to be cared for; by recognising them as individuals and giving them due respect.
If you are suffering from pain, do not be afraid to inform your doctor about it, even when your relatives or friends tell you to put up with it. It is also important for doctors to know about a patient’s pain, because it may help them to discover the source of the pain condition.
I enjoy going on hikes and trekking. However, because of my schedule, most times I am restricted to enjoying short walks or jogs, which help me keep active and healthy.
I enjoy teaching the younger doctors as well, and have done for the past 30 years. I was the Clinical Associate Professor of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in the National University of Singapore (from 2015), as well as the Clinical Associate Professor of the Singhealth-Duke NUS Anaesthesiology & Perioperative Sciences Academic Clinical Programme.
“I found it meaningful to teach as I was able to impress the importance of pain management to junior doctors and nurses.”
I received the 2014 Best Educator Award for Medical Undergraduate Education and Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence AY 12/13 from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.
Over the years, I noticed an interesting pattern in my patients. Many of them presented with “common” pain conditions, for example, back pain, and when their back pain had been treated and improved, they would then say to me: “By the way, Doc, I also have shoulder pain…”
It made me realise that shoulder pain is common, but is often ignored. This is why I would like to focus on shoulder pain, because almost everyone experiences shoulder pain once in their lifetime.