Ian Wallbridge

BHB, MBChB, Dip Paed, Dip Obst, Dip MusM, Dip Nutr & Env Med, FAFMM, FRNZCGP

“For some people, pain can be easily managed and even cured. For many others, pain can be a deeply spiritual experience - pain causes them to question every fibre of their being.”

          – Ian Wallbridge

It is this observation that caused Ian to study Medicine….

Ian started his training at Auckland Medical School in 1982 at age seventeen. He developed a keen interest in minimally invasive techniques for treating spinal pain as a teenager and started reading about this from Australian work first published in 1972 (Rees- Lumbar Facet rhizotomy). Ian graduated with an average grade of A in the Bachelor of Human Biology (BHB) in 1985 and the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1988 (MbChB). In 1988 he undertook three months training in Lazaro Cardenas, the epicentre of the Mexico City earthquake. He was very influenced by the superbly committed doctors and nurses on a Mercy ship run by YWAM (Youth with a Mission) called the M/V Anastasis helping with Cleft lip and Palate surgery, Dental work and Ophthalmology intervention along with housing relief work. Ian noted that pain is the great leveller of humanity.

Regardless of race, culture, religion, financial status or health status, pain could have potentially devastating effects on patients and their families. Returning to New Zealand Ian completed his specialty training in General Practice (FRNZCGP-Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners) in the 1990’s.  To broaden his understanding of pain in a wide variety of disciplines Ian undertook four post graduate diplomas: Women’s Health-Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Dip Obs & Gyn), children’s health (Dip Paeds) through Rotorua Hospital, Nutritional and Environmental influences in health (Dip Nutr &Env Med) through Swinburne Australia and Musculoskeletal Pain medicine (Dip Mus Med) through Otago.  Ian operated a solo General Practice from 1995-2006 in Rotorua. He further researched his interest in neck and lumbar facet rhizotomy as a treatment for intractable spinal pain.

He completed his specialty training in Musculoskeletal Pain Medicine (Fellow of the Federation of Musculoskeletal Medicine FAFFM) in 2004 aged forty. He is the only Musculoskeletal Physician in NZ with his own Personal Image Intensifier.  This allows minimally invasive spinal interventions like radiofrequency neurotomy and needling procedures that can prevent the need for spinal surgery. These procedures were perfected in Australia decades after their 1972 conception and protocoled by the Spinal Injection Society. The NZ experience has been published in “Pain” a peer reviewed journal. But even more important than these interventions after 30 years of practicing medicine overseas in developing countries and in New Zealand, Ian believes a global approach to pain is the key: Considering the whole person, the way they think, the way they eat, the way they exercise and move, the medications the take- prescribed and natural- and the manual therapies they have, is the answer  The fear and frustration, the anger and anxiety, the depression and just feeling plain down associated with this pain can be  life changing! Ian’s eclectic approach and defining expectations empowers the person to move forward and manage the pain instead of the pain managing the person. Even when a cure is not possible, reduction of pain and increase in function most surely is.