Living with pain? No matter the cause, relief is available

ST. GEORGE – Many people suffer daily with chronic pain, whether it be from an injury, a surgery, an inherited condition or various other causes; and many have come to believe that no relief is available to them. But a St. George trio of Ivy League doctors is here to say otherwise.

“Our society has a history of believing that you just have to suffer with the pain and man-up and take it,” Dr. Derek Frieden said. “And, unfortunately, that was probably true 20-30 years ago, because there weren’t many very good options to address the pain. But now, with the advances and the procedures and the medications that we have to offer, there’s no need for anyone to be suffering with pain.”

Frieden is one of three board-certified physicians leading the team at Southwest Spine & Pain Center, a private practice with locations in St. George, Cedar City, Richfield and Logan. The practice addresses a variety of pain sources, some of the most common being back and neck pain, including pain from failed surgery, spinal compression fractures and whiplash headaches; joint pain, including shoulder, hip and knee pain; and neuropathy pain, including complex regional pain syndrome, phantom limb pain, chest-wall pain after lung surgery, shingles pain, diabetic neuropathy and inguinal neuralgia.

Frieden said people suffering with chronic pain, living day to day on an opioid regimen just to get by, don’t realize there are many new advances, treatments and medications that can drastically improve their pain relief, no matter the cause. Even pain from failed surgery can be addressed and alleviated.

“The motto of our practice is: ‘So you can live life again,’” Frieden said. “We can come in and address your pain, get you functioning. We’ll coordinate your care if we think you need physical therapy. If the interventions that we offer are ineffective or unindicated and we think surgery may be of value, we’ll coordinate your care with a spine surgeon.”

The Southwest Spine and Pain Center team. Front row L-R: Drs. Jon Obray and Rick Obray; back row L-R: Jeffrey A. Wright, PA-C, Brookanne J. Mickelson, FNP-B.C., , Dr. Derek Frieden, Dayne Johnson, PA-C; Southwest Spine & Pain Center, St. George, Utah, circa 2014 | Photo courtesy of Southwest Spine and Pain Center, St. George News

The bottom line is, when a patient seeks care at Southwest Spine & Pain Center, they align with a family of pain treatment specialists that will see them through from beginning to end.

“When they’re affiliated with the practice, they have a home,” Frieden said. “They know, ‘If my pain’s out of control, if I’m having issues, there’s somewhere for me to go.’”

Once they’re here, we own the pain,” he added, “so we’re going to coordinate their care. We’re going to order the imaging that they need. We’re going to make the referrals to the necessary ancillary services / specialists.”

People experiencing pain, whether long-term or recently developed, are often afraid to seek professional treatment for fear of falling down a black hole of endless referrals to different doctors, costly visits to a variety of specialists, and test after test leading to one inevitable conclusion: surgery. But Frieden said most patients who come to Southwest Spine & Pain Center don’t need surgery to have their pain alleviated – even if they’ve been told elsewhere that surgery is their only option.

“Our experience at Southwest Spine & Pain is that only around 10-15 percent of patients that we see with back and neck pain end up needing to go on and have surgery,” Frieden said.

Southwest Spine & Pain Center not only assumes oversight for every facet of patients’ care, but Frieden and his partners travel constantly to medical conferences throughout the country to keep abreast of the newest innovations, so their patients have access to the latest and best in pain treatment and management.

We try to stay out on the cutting edge of pain treatment and pain care,” Frieden said.

Nonsurgical treatments and procedures performed at Southwest Spine, the majority of which are covered by insurance, range from basic to very advanced:


  • Trigger Point Injection
  • Epidural Injection (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and caudal)
  • Occipital Nerve Block


  • Sympathetic Nerve Block (Stellate, Celiac, Lumbar and Superior Hypogastric)
  • Facet Joint Injection
  • Medial Branch Nerve Block
  • Sacroiliac Joint Injection
  • Epidural Blood Patch
  • Botox Injection


  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (Neuromodulation)
  • Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty
  • Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD)
  • Radiofrequency Ablation
  • Ultrasound-guided Nerve Block
  • Ultrasound-guided Joint Injection
  • Intrathecal Drug Delivery
  • Discogram
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma
  • Stem Cell Therapy

When patients seek care at Southwest Spine & Pain Center, they’re not only receiving the most advanced treatment options available, but they’re being cared for by an elite team of highly qualified physicians.

Frieden, a Harvard graduate, is board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine. His partners in the practice, brothers Dr. Jon Obray and Dr. Rick Obray, each studied at Johns Hopkins University. Jon Obray, who is also board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, served as director of the outpatient pain program at the Mayo Clinic. Rick Obray is board certified in radiology and completed a fellowship in musculoskeletal radiology, enabling him to both read patients’ diagnostic imaging in great detail and, utilizing his clinical expertise, then correlate their symptoms with what he sees on the imaging.

The three physicians’ backgrounds combine to provide a unique one-stop-shop for pain treatment and management in Southern Utah.

“I’d encourage patients, if they’ve had care before that’s been unsuccessful, with the unique background that we all have, sometimes just a fresh perspective may lead to a treatment that’s effective for them,” Frieden said.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


  • To schedule a consultation of for more information, visit the Southwest Spine & Pain Center website or contact one of their four Utah locations:
    • St. George: 652 S. Medical Center Drive, No. 110 (inside Intermountain Health & Performance Center); 435-656-2424
    • Cedar City: 1303 N. Main St., 435-586-2229
    • Richfield: 70 E. 1000 North, Suite 2C, 435-586-2229
    • Logan: 550 E. 1440 North, Suites X and Y, 435-787-8146

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  • My Evil Twin September 24, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    It probably would have been a good idea for these doctors to add MD after their names. Until I looked at the website, I had a question as to if they were actually medical doctors or not. Some of the chiropractors are so aggressive in their advertising, that you get the impression they are MDs when they are not.
    According to their website, these guys are actually Medical Doctors and not some half baked chiropractor, trying to sound like a doctor.

    • Herd September 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      And they didn’t post family pictures of themselves and their litter of kids.

      • Bobber September 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm

        When I choose my dentist and chiropractor I pick the one with the most kids in their ad photo. More kids = more worthy…

        • Koolaid September 25, 2014 at 11:47 am

          I ask what ward they’re in

  • Mary September 25, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I have been using this clinic for several years and am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the team .

    I have a 15 year old spinal cord injury & was originally treated by an excellent doctor in another state before moving here .

    It took awhile before I found SouthWest Spine ( in the new high rise behind the River Road Hospital & Foremaster ) but have been so grateful ever since .

    They are sharp , up to date and thoroughly check out each individual before coming up with a plan .

    Thank-you guys for keeping we walking without surgery ! ! !

  • Opiate Addict September 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    In my own personal experience I say just endure the pain. Medical Marijuana is a safe alternative to many pain medications on the market! Sadly I misunderstood the medical marijuana laws here (coming from California) and had my ass locked up! Thanks to the 3 officers who were needed to keep a dangerous criminal off the streets! I am now battling with an opiate addiction and pain almost every moment of the day. (not to mention the 1000’s of dollars spent on court and the emotional and physical torture that I have been enduring for it) Funny how it isn’t Marijuana that ruins your life, it is the societal response to it.. Just my experience with pain medications. I now have no money to leave this place and have to put that I have committed a crime on every application I put in.

    • Mary September 26, 2014 at 8:28 am

      SWS&Ps focus is mostly on addressing the Cause of the pain ,
      Not just dispensing meds ( treating symptom ) .

      Because they addressed the Cause of my case , my pain ‘med’ is some aspirin or aleve but I only end up needing those several months after treatment .

      Great progress has been made in dealing with causes and should you ever have the opportunity ,
      I highly recommend you consider it .
      Altho not all issues can be remedied , many now can .

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