Once a month, more than a dozen pain management experts gather in a large conference room in the OHSU Center for Health & Healing. They converge to compare notes about some tough cases among the 80 to 100 patients who come to the OHSU Comprehensive Pain Center every day seeking help for chronic pain.
The clinic helps patients manage pain through medication while emphasizing alternative treatments. A variety of specialists gather monthly to discuss cases and best strategies. The center, which employs more than 40 specialists on OHSU’s South Waterfront Campus, includes physicians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, experts in rolfing and yoga, chiropractors, psychiatrists, pain psychologists and a naturopath.
“Everyone looks at it from a different angle,” said Kim Mauer, M.D., the center’s medical director.
Pain management specialists at OHSU focus on helping patients maintain their ability to live life comfortably using thought-out treatments and therapies – not just opioids.
They are keenly aware of the stakes. The national opioid epidemic took hold in the 1990s, with an increased focus on helping patients to manage chronic pain. Pharmaceutical companies began marketing opioids to treat chronic pain beyond its previously established use in cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. However, widespread use of prescription opioids led to misuse, addiction and overdoses. In the year that ended in April of 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States.
OHSU’s expertise in pain management is not limited to the Comprehensive Pain Center. As Oregon’s academic health center, OHSU has developed expertise in managing chronic and acute pain across its patient care, education and research missions. See below for a list of some of the OHSU experts in pain management.
Pain management experts
Catriona Buist, Psy.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Buist is past chair of the Oregon Pain Management Commission and a member of the Oregon Health Authority workgroup to establish guidelines for prescribing opioids for management of acute pain. She is currently serving on the state’s Chronic Pain Taskforce to establish treatment guidelines for chronic pain.
Esther Choo, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Choo leads research studies that assess the effects of cannabis, alcohol and other substances on patients involved in motor vehicle accidents and that evaluate the impact of Oregon opioid prescribing and other health policies.
Roger Chou, M.D., director of the OHSU Pacific Northwest Evidence-Based Practice Center and a professor of general internal medicine and geriatrics, and medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine
Chou co-authored a set of opioid-prescribing guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016. He also contributed to guidelines issued in February 2017 by the American College of Physicians recommending physicians use non-drug therapies to treat low back pain.
Nicholas Gideonse, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Gideonse’s practice interest includes buprenorphine treatment of opiate dependence, maternity care, end-of-life care and Oregon’s Death with Dignity law, and developing community standards for pain treatment.
Catherine Livingston, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Livingston is a primary care physician who primarily serves a low-income population at the OHSU Family Medicine Clinic at Richmond in southeast Portland. She also staffs the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission, which translates evidence into coverage policy for Medicaid.
Kimberly M. Mauer, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Mauer is the medical director of the OHSU Comprehensive Pain Center and is certified in both pain medicine and anesthesiology.
Jonathan Robbins, M.D., OHSU School of Medicine assistant professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics)
Robbins is a primary care physician who cares for patients with opioid use disorder, including those struggling with homelessness. He also instructs primary care physicians throughout Oregon on how to improve their ability to diagnose, treat and manage patients with persistent pain and opioid use disorder.
David Sibell, M.D., professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine
Sibell, who joined the OHSU Comprehensive Pain Center in 1997, specializes in treatment of painful disorders of the back and neck. Through the Spine Intervention Society, he is also engaged in providing continuing medical education for physicians treating painful spinal conditions.