Mission Statement

My name is Dr. Tom Kleeman. I am an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon by training. I have recently published a book about treating pain without the use of Opioids. Over twenty years ago I witnessed a patient overdose on an opioid prescribed by her primary care doctor. She left behind a husband and two small children. The tragedy of this event had a profound effect on me. I decided I would find a way to effectively treat back pain without Opioids and preferably without surgery. Through research and experience I have developed what I call The RELEASE Method, a 7-step program that has worked for thousands of my patients. Each of my 7 techniques is backed by scientific research published in respected journals.

The Opioid crisis has become the greatest public health problem of our time. It caught the medical world off guard like a wildfire burning out of control. It has jumped across vast oceans to spread globally, taking out thousands of unsuspecting victims in the prime of their lives.

The medical world has been so embroiled in fighting the raging fire, they have had little time to consider the obvious next step. Medicine 101 tells us that the best way to solve a medical condition is to prevent it in the first place.

But withholding drugs has not solved the problem. The number of deaths from overdose continues to rise. If patients canít get relief from their doctor, they go somewhere else, anywhere else, to get relief.

If we as physicians can learn to treat back pain without opioids, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of patients from becoming addicted and possibly overdosing. But we can go further than that. We can reach out to those desperate soles who are adrift on an ocean of despair and guide them to a safe harbor where they can learn to thrive in a world without opioids. My RELEASE Method can do all of this and more. This method doesnít just apply to Back pain, it works for diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and most cancer.

This method could save millions of lives and billions of dollars that could be put to better use.

Let me show you just a few examples of where we could apply this. The word RELEASE is an acronym for the 7 elements of my method:

Reaching out:
One of the great ironies of our time is that the internet was designed to connect people but has in fact allowed them to become more isolated and alone. People need physical contact. They need to reach out and build relationships. Social media could be restructured to achieve this goal. The use of websites and apps could allow more people to connect with each other in meaningful ways. Instead of the internet tempting us with what we want and need, it should be helping us to be happy and enjoy with the circumstances that are right in front of us.

Exercise:
There is a misconception that exercising means devoting hours in the gym and getting sweaty. Science tells us differently. We need to remove the stigma of exercise and put it within everyoneís reach. This could be done through mass education, social media, and especially in the doctorís office. We can show that it can be done without expensive equipment or gym memberships.

Learning:
We need to teach people not to fear pain. It is part of our bodyís defense system and without it we canít survive. They must learn how to co-exist with pain and use it effectively without it taking over their lives. There are some extremely helpful techniques out there like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Meditation that have been shown to work. They can even be taught as a self-learned program or app. We can make these available to people on a mass scale through partnering with Insurance companies and businesses.

Eating like a Mediterranean:
We have been duped by our own medical system into thinking that all dietary fat was bad, and that we should all be on low-fat diets. It took 40 years, but we are finally bringing science and nutrition into harmony. It isnít fat that is bad, it is processed carbohydrates and food additives. The food industry must be incentivized into producing and promoting healthier products. Every supermarket should have more education for consumers while they wander the isles. We should be promoting elements of the Mediterranean diet such as fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and other natural foods, while discouraging processed food.

Activity:
Exercise is considered a subgroup of activity. There are plenty of non-exercise activities with significant health benefits. Scientific evidence shows that most activities that are good for pain are equally beneficial for health in general. Walking is still the easiest and probably best activity for the population as a whole, but as the population has grown, the areas available for walking have shrunk. This is particularly true for outdoor areas. We need to have city planners incorporate areas for walking and other activities into their master plans. We need education for our aging population that reinforces that any activity is better than no activity. Chores around the home such as raking, or gardening are considered activity. Recreational pursuits such has hiking, swimming, boating, and biking are all excellent activities that should be encouraged.

Sleeping:
In 1942 the average hours of sleep in this country was 8 hrs. By 2017 the average was 6 hrs. 9 minutes for women and an alarming 5 hrs. 45 minutes for men. Lack of sleep has both mental and physical health consequences including increased pain. There are several techniques that can help people obtain more sleep such as regular routine, less ambient light, turning off the TV or cell phone, etc. Here is where education can help. We need to get the message out to the population that their health is closely linked to their sleep.

Enjoyment:
It would seem self-evident that people who enjoy their life have less pain and better health. Obtaining happiness on the other hand is easier said than done. There seems to be a genetic link that makes some people naturally happy, but life events and circumstances play an important roll as well. Studies such as the Harvard longitudinal study and the Nunís study teach us that wealth, social status, education, and success donít automatically make us happy. On the other hand, there are techniques that can be learned that can help people find more enjoyment in life and we need as a society to embrace these tools.

So how do we achieve this utopia for our nation and world? We are not going to transform a capitalist country into a philanthropic one overnight. But we can identify models that are already in existence and nurture them. We can show that preventing problems like chronic pain and drug addiction not only saves lives it save millions if not billions of dollars for governments, healthcare systems, insurance companies and businesses. If we can create partnerships between these groups, we can evoke change that will help them all. Government, business, and insurance companies could invest the funds for new and innovative programs that utilize evidence-based programs for patients who are presently suffering from addiction and need a safe harbor to get their lives back on track. The healthcare system needs to get behind these programs and encourage more like them. We need to be able to connect with the people who need us when it is needed, not when it is convenient. This requires money and manpower. It also requires education and training. As I draw nearer to retiring form active practice as a physician, it occurs to me that I leave the profession with a vast knowledge obtained over 30 years of practice and experience. I still have much I can offer my fellow man. And I am not alone. Consider the millions of professionals of my generation who are transitioning into retirement. They are probably feeling the same way. I believe many of them arenít looking to make more money as much as they are looking to make a difference. There are doctors, nurses, therapists, and other professionals who would likely be willing to get involved if we asked them. Imagine if we could tap into all this knowledge and experience for little or no financial investment. What if we could allow them to pass on their experiences, their successes, and their failures to people who desperately need it. They could serve as contacts, sponsors, and coaches to the unfortunate people who have lost their way through chronic pain or addiction. Through screening, training, and credentialing we could assure that we matched the right people on both sides of the relationship. I would love to at least see a pilot program set up to see if this is a feasible option.

We are all in this crisis together and it is up to us to find a solution. Through my book and my continued efforts, I hope to be part of that solution.

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Proceeds from book sales will go to Shatterproof, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families.