Natalie Winter, MD, is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Group Medical Specialty Clinic. She’s been with the clinic for nearly six years. We recently asked Dr. Winter what inspired her to be a physician and also what she likes about living and working in the Cheyenne community.
“I enjoy the interactions that I have with patients and being able to do procedures that relieve pain,” Dr. Winter said of why she specialized in pain management. “As an anesthesiologist with additional training in chronic pain management, I have multiple tools that I can use to help patients. Often, it takes a collaboration between my area, physical therapy, psychology and primary care to determine what will work best for our patients. It’s very rewarding when we can come up with interventions that improve a patient’s health and ability to function over time.”
Dr. Winter’s long-time interest in medicine intensified when she was in college. “I did clinical research for an orthopedic spine surgeon in Indianapolis. I have a personal history of idiopathic scoliosis and spinal fusion as an adolescent so found the field very interesting,” she said. “Ultimately, though, I decided to pursue anesthesiology and chronic pain management. I wanted to enter a field where I could get to know my patients and help them over an extended period of time.”
Dr. Winter acknowledged that this field can be challenging due to the overuse of opioids as a means of managing chronic pain: “There is no evidence that long-term opioid therapy is effective. There are some patients that may benefit, but in my experience, a lot of patients do not do well long-term.”
When it comes to treatment, Dr. Winter can often improve a person’s quality of life through a combination of therapies. “We work to find the most beneficial treatments with the lowest risk,” she said. “I can offer interventional techniques and possibly medications to provide relief and can also refer the patient to additional resources. The first step is to determine where a patient’s pain is coming from to help determine how to manage it best. We may consider an injection to decrease inflammation at the site of pain, procedures that prevent nerves from feeling pain or ways of stimulating the patient’s nervous system to offer pain relief. Other helpful resources for patients might include behavioral health and mindfulness techniques and physical therapy along with exercise. Once patients begin to feel better, they can often increase their activity level and function, which can help relieve the pain even further.”
Another way Dr. Winter helps patients is to work with them to develop reasonable expectations and formulate new goals. “It may not be realistic for a person to expect to be totally pain-free. But once a patient commits to trying to manage the pain instead of ‘curing’ it, the results can be quite profound,” she said.
When it comes to life outside of work, Dr. Winter is focused on her family and spending time outdoors. “It is nice to practice medicine in a smaller community where people are more likely to know and care for each other. This makes it a great place to raise children and have a family. I am a mother of two young children and a wife to a wonderful husband, and I cherish the time I can spend with them. Living in the Mountain West is also nice because of the many outdoor activities that are available. I enjoy spending time outside, preferably mountain- or road-biking in the summer and downhill or cross-country skiing in the winter.”
To request an appointment with Dr. Winter, please call the clinic at (307) 638-7757 or click here.