Most physicians diagnose or treat pathology or disease, but Johnathan Goree treats quality of life.
Goree, director of the UAMS Chronic Pain Division, frequently encounters patients who have been told there is no solution to their pain problems. Whether suffering from terminal cancer or post-surgery pain, the patients just want to accomplish everyday things — a good night’s sleep or trip to the store — without pain.
Goree makes it a point to end each visit with the question “What is your quality of life goal?” From there, he knows whether to prescribe medications or injections, do a nerve ablation or implant a spinal cord stimulator.
But with almost every treatment plan comes strength building, some sort of lifestyle modification and/or physical therapy.
“The thing that I find most rewarding is when I am able to help someone reach his or her goal,” Goree said.
Goree became interested in chronic pain medicine after a life-threatening experience with the painkiller fentanyl following oral surgery during his medical training. An excessive dose of the drug stopped Goree’s breathing, and a full dose of the reversal agent naloxone brought him back, though it left him with intense, temporary pain.
He decided to dedicate his career to providing safe options to fight chronic pain and improve quality of life with as few side effects as possible. At UAMS, Goree established the Chronic Pain Division to help Arkansas fight the twin epidemics of opioid overprescription and misuse and poorly treated chronic pain.
Through lectures, provider education initiatives and as co-founder of the Arkansas Pain Management Society, Goree has tried to meet the needs of the state. He is associate fellowship director of the first accredited chronic pain physician training program in the state and specializes in the treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a misunderstood affliction that causes severe pain in one limb.
Goree is chair of the UAMS opioid stewardship committee, has collaborative relationships with other universities and travels to other hospitals in order to stay current on pain management methods as he continues to fight the opioid crisis and treat his patients’ quality of life.