Featured in The Virginian Pilot newspaper
“There’s not a pill for every ill.” That’s Lisa Barr’s maxim.
Barr, a physiatrist, recently opened Barr Medical Center, located at 933 First Colonial Road, where she helps empower her patients to manage or alleviate pain. She uses a variety of techniques, including physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle counseling, and sometimes medicine, to take control of their pain.
As a young physician, Barr worked for a while at an urgent care center. It was there that she noticed how profoundly pain affects some people, so she returned to school and began a program in physiatry.
To help her patients overcome pain, Barr tries to find the root cause of the pain, which can be anything from poor posture or poor eating habits to emotional stress.
Before she opened her current practice in January, Barr worked at APM Spine & Sports Physicians, which closed in December 2018. She opened her current practice in January.
Barr is also the author of “Outsmart Your Pain: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Pain and Transforming Your Life,” which is available on Amazon. She’s planning another book, and in her spare time she enjoys stand-up paddle-boarding, high-intensity interval training, and other outdoor and fitness-related activities.
What is the greatest challenge you face doing what you do? Working with patients whose lives are out of balance. This tipping point often manifests as physical pain but starts with not moving optimally, eating well, sleeping well or managing stress well. Identifying lifestyle habits as well as mental and emotional factors that throw us out of balance are key to effectively alleviating pain. I am passionate about helping people find the root causes of their pain and not just treat symptoms.
Who or what inspires you to do what you do? After working in primary care and then as a pain physician for 30-plus years and treating more than 200,000 patients I realize that there’s just such a huge opportunity to shed a light on how to demystify pain and tap into the root cause of each person’s pain. Creating a common language around pain is essential. I call this pain literacy.
Who or what in your background best prepared you to do what you do? I have been blessed to study with the best teachers across many disciplines. Dr. John Sarno was someone who had a profound impact on me early in my career. He was one of the first to talk about the mind/body connection and how emotions and thought processes can drive pain. I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to figure out if he was right. What I learned is that he was partially right. I explain this in my book “Outsmart Your Pain! The Essential Guide to Overcoming Pain and Transforming Your Life.”
If a snapshot was taken of you enjoying a perfect day, what would it look like? Stand-up paddle boarding, tennis, a walk on the beach and interacting with friends and family. I also enjoy the arts, including movies and theater, and music. I’m a jazz lover.
Of what achievements are you most proud? Personally, I’m most proud of being a mother. Professionally, I’m proud that I’ve been willing to stand up and follow my passion. As a physician, you are often encouraged “to stay in your lane”, but having studied so many aspects of healing I have a really wide lane. In my work with patients I straddle between traditional and alternative medicine — with one foot in each, I’m comfortable with that and find it helps me be a more effective physician as I can meet my patients where they are and guide them to relief.
Something you’ve done that others might not expect of you? At age 60, I wrote my first book and started a new practice.
Contributor/Writer: Jane Bloodworth Rowe, [email protected]
This article was featured in The Virginian Pilot on February 14, 2019.