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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Dr. Cheema received his medical degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Photo by Al Thompson

One thing many people may look to evaluate when they are looking for treatment from a doctor, especially a surgeon, who is just starting out…how well is he or she grounded?

Is the physician confident, but careful? Has he or she made good decisions early on in their career? If that surgeon happens to be Dr. Adnan Cheema, of the North American Spine and Pain Group in New Jersey, it should be assuring that when it came time for him to choose where he would begin his career as an orthopedic surgeon, he didn’t hesitate. Dr. Cheema said he wanted to practice medicine in the community he grew up in. He said these were the people he grew up admiring from childhood. We often hear young people say they look up to sports figures, entertainers or teachers. His family, Dr. Cheema said, were his heroes. “I was always a family values kind of person,” Dr. Cheema said in a recent phone interview. “I think the people that inspired me the most were my immediate family members: Aunts, uncles and cousins. Having that family support at all times was the single most inspirational thing growing up. “Those are the people I am still very close to,” he continued. “That’s why I made such an effort to come back to the area to be close to them.” Cheema said he grew up in Central Jersey, in the greater Princeton area. Once he arrived at Lawrence Public High School, the educators knew they had a gifted kid in house and made the move to get him into advanced classes. Dr. Cheema said he knew from an early age, he was going to be a sponge for knowledge. “I didn’t play sports at Lawrence;” he said. “I was more of a bookworm during my time in high school.” Cheema said while in high school, he was already shadowing practicing doctors and volunteering at medical facilities like Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.

Dr. Cheema said at one point he would like the opportunity to serve as a volunteer team doctor for local high school sports events. Photo by Al Thompson

He spent most of his time at Lawrence High School in advanced courses.

So, when he tells you when he was accepted into medical school, it’s not a surprise. “I think I figured out early on that I wanted to do medicine,” Dr. Cheema said. “[Medicine] is something I always wanted to do, so I pursued it. I got into medical school very early; I was 17 years old when I got into medical school. Once there, I went right into an accelerated program.” Dr. Cheema received his medical degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

His residency was completed at the University of Pennsylvania as an orthopedic surgeon. WHAT DREW CHEEMA TO ORTHOPEDICS? Many orthopedic surgeons will tell their interest in orthopedics was inspired after getting injured while playing sports, usually in high school. While getting treated by an orthopedic surgeon, he or she became interested in how this branch of the medical community was able to have such great results in getting people back to doing what they love or back to earning a living. That was the carrot for many. Dr. Cheema’s interest in orthopedics did not develop from a sports injury…he didn’t play sports. “My interest came more from the trauma side than the sports side,” Dr. Cheema recalled. “I think it was probably a combination of my grandfather’s hip fracture, and then, to an extent from my brother, he did play football…and he had injuries.” Dr. Cheema went on to describe his early memories of people in his family and his Jersey neighborhood visiting the local physician. “I think growing up my image was that when you went to a doctor, if you didn’t come back with a cast or crutches, you didn’t see a real doctor,” he said. “That’s what I saw when I was a young kid.” One common theme Dr. Cheema shares with the athletes who got into orthopedics, is the satisfaction that comes with seeing a patient get back to enjoying a high quality of life. That’s the joy, right?

“Absolutely,” Dr. Cheema said. “The focus on restoring functionality is very much a goal.” He went on to talk about the examples he experienced and treated during his residency and fellowship. “There are very practical, everyday things people came in with like, ‘I can’t walk to the door, I can’t pick up a wrench, I can’t reach for such-and-such in the kitchen cabinet overhead, I can’t pick up my grandchildren because my shoulder hurts or my knee hurts.’ “There are solutions tailored to that…it’s giving people basically their lives back. [Orthopedics] is very much a quality-of-life specialty. It’s very rewarding in that sense.”

Dr. Cheema said there are three offices with North American Spine and Pain Group he will be stationed with in New Jersey including Cherry Hill, Hainesport and Princeton. Photo by Al Thompson

DR. CHEEMA KNOWS SPORTS WILL ALWAYS NEED ORTHOPEDIC CARE Dr. Cheema said he would like to join other doctors in his field and volunteer for local high school sporting events…to be a team doctor. “I’ve very interested in that, absolutely.” He said. “Central Jersey is very close to my heart and I’m very happy to see anyone from the area.” Dr. Cheema knows he must keep up with the more high-profile injuries to college and pro athletes.

In early August, the Eagles announced that their future Hall of Fame center Jason Kelce underwent a procedure on his elbow in order to address frequent discomfort he was experiencing early in training camp. The Eagles issued a statement concerning Kelce’s situation. “After trying to work through discomfort in his elbow, it was agreed that a routine 'cleanout' was in his best interest and would also allow for a speedy recovery." Dr. Cheema was asked if high profile medical stories like this are something he intends to pay attention to? “Oh, Absolutely,” Dr. Cheema said. “I’ve heard about it; I haven’t read too much about it. “ Can he see how the doctors working on that famous elbow can claim he could be back by the Eagles season opener on September 11, 2022 in Detroit? At press time Kelce was scheduled to start in the Eagles season opener against the Lions. “A clean-up operation of an elbow, usually those are done arthroscopically,” Dr. Cheema said. “Which means they are done with minimum invasively…with about with about five to eight small, sort of stabbing incisions around the elbow, both in the front and the back. “Usually, the patient is lying on their side for the procedure. A small camera is introduced in the back and front of the elbow, like an arthroscope. Then various instruments are passed. “Usually it’s the combination of osteophytes, which are bone spurs that form as a result of arthritis. “Those are removed usually with an arthroscopic shaver…sometimes pieces of cartilage can shear off from repeated injury and can be sort of floating around the athlete’s elbow. All those loose bodies can be fished out.” Dr. Cheema said he is trained for that procedure. ”It’s minimally invasive Dr. Cheema said. “The recovery is generally pretty quick for it.” It was interesting to hear Dr. Cheema talk about the age of patients who come in for a joint “clean out.” With veteran football players like Kelce, most would think it is not unusual because he has been playing a collision sport like football for over two decades and will turn 35 November 5. But Dr. Cheema says he has seen younger patients come in during his days shadowing doctors and when he was a resident. “I think it’s true to an extent,” said Dr. Cheema, referring to the idea that it’s older athletes like Kelce who develop osteophytes or cartilage floating inside a joint. “Kids as young as 14 years old, maybe even younger actually, can come in after they fall and shear a piece of cartilage off, and now it’s just floating around and needs to be removed. It’s not uncommon with baseball pitchers as well. There are a whole host of patients and age ranges that this can occur in.”

One of Dr. Cheena's offices at the North American Spine and Pain Group is located at 1601 N Kings Highway, Suite 800 in Cherry Hill NJ. Photo by Al Thompson

DR. CHEEMA HAS JOINED THE DRIVE TO TREAT PATIENTS WITH LITTLE OR NO OPIOID PAIN MEDICINE Dr. Cheema said there are three offices with North American Spine and Pain Group he will be stationed with in New Jersey including Cherry Hill, Hainesport and Princeton.

All branches of the medical community have worked to move further and further away from using opioids to treat patients for pain after surgery. The Orthopedic branch is particularly interested in improving how it treats pain since so many of their patients are active people who are injured from sports, accidents or the workplace. “I can say that, when I was in fellowship, the vast majority of our patients, even when they had shoulder replacement surgery, did not require opioids for more than one day after the surgery. And a very significant portion of them did not take any opioid medication afterwards too. “You may wonder how that is even possible,” Dr. Cheema continued. “It’s possible because of new techniques in anesthesia. “Typically, those involve interscalene nerve blocks which are basically ultrasound-guided injections that are done in the neck and upper shoulder region that block the nerves essentially like a local anesthetic you might get for your teeth when you go to the dentist. “Those are injected around the nerves, and it makes the entire arm go to sleep essentially.It stays that way for about three days or so. That gets the patient through the worst of it.” “You can do pretty big operations like shoulder replacements and not require pain medication.” It sounds like Dr. Cheema is starting his career as a well-grounded professional who understands the value of surrounding oneself with quality people. Clearly, he has accomplished that. *

North American Spine and Pain Group locations:

Hainesport, NJ

404 Creek Crossing Blvd

P: (609) 845-3988

F: (609) 288-6078

Newark, NJ

131 Bergen Street, Unit 3

P: (973) 577-7677

F: (973) 577-7610

Princeton, NJ

707 Alexander Rd., Suite 205

P: (609) 356-0744

F: (609) 356-0120

Toms River, NJ

202 Rt 37, Suite 6

P: (732) 503-4373

F: (732) 851-1660

Blackwood, NJ

160 Fries Mills Road

Relocated from 4101 Rt 42, Suite C

P: (856) 516-4566

F: (856) 516-4577

Somers Point, NJ

700 Shore Rd.

P: (732) 503-4373

F: (732) 851-1660

Cherry Hill, NJ

1601 N. Kings Hwy, Suite 800

P: (856) 888-2602

F: (856) 528-2610

West Deptford, NJ

196 Grove Avenue Suite E

P: (856) 845-2323

F: (609) 845-4888

Exton, PA

495 Thomas Jones Way, #304

P: (484) 879-6508

F: (484) 879-6509

Paoli, PA

2 Industrial Blvd, Suite 210

P: (484) 879-6508

F: (484) 879-6509

Langhorne, PA

930 Town Center Drive, F-50 , PA

P: (267) 352-3990

F: (267) 352-3993

Willow Grove, PA

2325 Maryland Road, Suite 100

Relocated From Huntingdon Valley

P: (215) 657-1315

F: (215) 659-8964

Bala Cynwyd, PA

100 Presidential Boulevard

P: (484) 436-2123

F: (267) 352-3993

Pittsburgh, PA

1000 Integrity Drive, Suite 100

P: (412) 723-1566

F: (412) 871-0279

Newark, DE

2600 Glasgow Ave, Suite 126

P: (302) 439-3063

F: (302) 439-3372

Email Al Thompson at

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