Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: Diagnosing and treating an ‘invisible’ disease
January 6, 2022
Isabel Huang, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Southwestern. She specializes in pain management for individuals suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, degenerative injuries, hypermobility, and neuropathic pain.
After earning her medical degree at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dr. Huang completed her internship in general surgery and her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the McGovern School of Medicine at UTHealth in Houston, Texas.
Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty, Dr. Huang was an Assistant Professor at the Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR).
In addition to her clinical duties, Dr. Huang enjoys teaching the physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) residents and medical students at UT Southwestern, and is on the Residency Wellness Committee. She is also a director of the annual Research Competition for UT Southwestern's PM&R residents, otherwise known as "Shark Tank." Her research focuses on female physician wellness and early mobilization in the intensive care unit.
Dr. Huang is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Dallas County Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, and the Texas Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Society.
If you’re experiencing musculoskeletal pain – such as pain in your shoulders, knees, or hips – physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Isabel Huang, M.D., offers the latest nonsurgical options for relief and often can help increase function for an improved quality of life.
“No one wants to live with pain,” Dr. Huang says. “But there are also many people who don’t want to take oral pain medications for the rest of their lives or are unable to undergo surgery. I can help maximize their pain relief with a more conservative approach.”
When an injection is the most effective remedy, Dr. Huang can provide trigger-point injections of anesthetics for myofascial pain, joint injections for joint pain, or tendon sheath injections for inflamed tendons.
She uses ultrasound, the latest imaging technology for injections. Injections have been traditionally performed without imaging guidance or under X-ray imaging. She feels that with the use of ultrasound she is able to improve accuracy, thereby decreasing complications. Ultrasound helps her visualize the needle as she advances it towards the target, increasing accuracy for pain relief and decreasing complications. And since ultrasound doesn’t emit radiation, it also reduces radiation exposure to patients versus X-ray imaging.
She also has a special interest in individuals who suffer from hypermobility syndromes. She can work with patients to provide a comprehensive plan in order to address the multitude of difficulties that could arise or are associated with hypermobility.
Dr. Huang has a variety of general rehabilitation and pain management therapies at her fingertips. For her general rehabilitation patients, such as those who have suffered from brain or spinal cord injuries, she ensures they have the right therapeutic equipment and facilitates occupational or speech therapy, among other services. She is also adept at treating other diseases such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain's tenosynovitis, and post-fracture rehabilitation.
When she’s helping patients address joint pain, such as bursitis or arthritis, or an injury, injections are often a preferred option in conjunction with therapy. Depending on a patient’s overall health and type of pain, injections of a steroid, hyalauronic acid, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can provide quick relief and last for months.
Treating pain takes experience because the source can be difficult to pinpoint. Furthermore, she feels that addressing the person as a whole is the best approach to achieve better pain control.
“I really listen to my patients,” she says. “That’s what helps me determine how to address their pain because it gives me a glimpse into how it’s affecting their lives. The more I know and understand about what they’re experiencing, the better I can treat them.”