Each patient is treated by an interdisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses, social workers, physical therapists and other allied health staff. Following a consultation, a pain management plan is created. This can include physical, psychological, social and spiritual interventions. The department also works with a patient’s family members, friends, and loved ones to assist in monitoring, managing, and communicating the patient’s pain. In an effort to lessen this burden on the families of our patients, the Department of Pain and Palliative Medicine offers emotional and spiritual assistance to help them cope.

For non-palliative conditions, therapeutic options of interventional modalities (including injections, implants, and minimally invasive surgical procedures), physical therapy, recommendations on medication management, and co-ordination with primary physicians as well as surgical providers are offered.   

As a rule, we generally do not function as a “medication management clinic” with a primary focus on opioid medication treatment modalities, but rather strive to incorporate multi-disciplinary approaches for our patients’ care. We work closely within our network of preferred providers who all subscribe to this same philosophy, thereby providing the patient with a consistent, function-oriented approach towards which each member of the team is oriented. 

We also offer services for patients looking to come off of opiates – whether in an acute (less than 3 months duration) post-operative setting or in chronic opiate dependency states. If further referral to psychiatrists, psychologists, or addiction specialists are needed, we also refer to and coordinate the care. 


Our Physicians


Jose A. Contreras, M.D.

Chairman, Department of Pain and Palliative Care

Dr. Contreras is a renowned, board-certified physician in the field and one of a select few who focus specifically on pain management and palliative medicine. Dr. Contreras has led the medical center’s Palliative Care program since 2005 and was the driving force behind the hospital’s decision to elevate the program to full Institute status. He believes that a multidisciplinary structure is the most efficient and effective approach to pain and Palliative Care.

Prior to his arrival at the medical center, Dr. Contreras completed a Family Medicine residency and was chief resident at the Warren Hospital Family Medicine residency program in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. He then completed a fellowship in Pain and Palliative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and subsequently accepted an appointment with the Department of Neurology, where he practiced pain and symptom management at The Cancer Center.  He is an active member of the American Academy of Family Medicine, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American Pain Society, the International Association for the Study of Pain, and the American Academy of Pain Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Contreras is an expert in cancer pain, neuropathic pain syndromes and providing Palliative Care. 


Ali Seckin, M.D.

Vice Chairman

Dr. Seckin joined our practice in August 2005. He brought a fresh perspective to the pain medicine department of HACKENSACK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER with his experience from Columbia-Presbyterian where he was trained in Interventional Pain Medicine. He is also an alumnus of the Mayo Clinic and UMDNJ-Hackensack University Medical Center.

Trained as an anesthesiologist, Dr. Seckin’s practice is focused on both diagnostic as well as therapeutic aspects of the Pain Medicine. His interests in his practice are nerve blocks for back and neck pain, intrathecal pumps and spinal cord stimulators for the treatment of chronic/cancer pain and discography to identify painful discs prior to back surgeries.

Along with ample research experience in his field, Dr. Seckin is Board Certified both in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. 


DSC_7474aaSurjya Sen, M.D.

Division Chief of Acute & Post Op Pain Management

Dr. Sen is double board certified in Anesthesiology as well as Pain Management.  He holds dual appointments in both the Department of Anesthesiology and the Department of Pain and Palliative Care.  This allows him the unique perspective and capacity to co-ordinate care for our inpatient service when patients come to Hackensack UMC with complex pain management issues related to their surgeries.  Dr. Sen sees patients with peri-operative needs, both as a consultation before their surgeries as well as in the hospital, immediately after their operations. He further coordinates the care plan with patients’ surgeons and often follows patients after their surgeries for up to three months to ensure proper transition off of the post-operative pain medications.

In the outpatient setting, Dr. Sen focuses on interventional therapies related to back and spine pain. Staying consistent with our Pain and Palliative Center’s treatment philosophy, Dr. Sen utilizes interventional therapies, physical reconditioning, and non-pharmacologic modalities whenever possible. Dr. Sen’s main focuses are on spine pathology with a special interest in neuromodulators/spinal cord stimulation. 

From training standpoint, Dr. Sen teaches residents, lectures locally, and has both trained as well as been on staff at the Mayo Clinic. He has also worked extensively within Hackensack UMC to train nurses in the post operative setting to help care for patients with surgical pain. His initiatives have included a peripheral nerve catheter program and post-operative regional anesthesia for patients undergoing hip and knee surgeries. 

Dr. Sen’s academic pursuits include primary authorships for multiple publication, abstracts, book chapters, editorships, and presentations at national meetings. He is also holds an instructorship position at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is regularly involved in teaching anesthesiology residents.


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