Dr. Tavares is triple board certified. He is ABMS double board certified in Pain Medicine, Physical Medicine, and Rehabilitation by the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians. He is also an active member of the Spine Intervention Society, The American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Damien Tavares, MD was born and raised in Hawaii. He earned his medical degree from the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. After medical school, he completed a General Surgery Internship at the University of Hawaii where he received extensive surgical training by some of Hawaii’s finest surgeons. Following internship, Dr. Tavares left Hawaii for specialty training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of California at Irvine where he was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Jerome Tobis Award for Exemplary Performance. After residency, Dr. Tavares chose to further subspecialize in Pain Medicine and received ACGME accredited fellowship training through the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care at the University of California at Irvine. His fellowship was multidisciplinary in scope with a strong emphasis on interventional procedures exceeding ACGME requirements within the first two months of training.
Upon completion of his medical training, Dr. Tavares returned home to Hawaii and joined Tripler Army Medical Center’s Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center. In addition to providing comprehensive pain management for members of the armed services and their dependents, he performed thousands of interventional procedures including surgical implants for refractory pain. After serving our country through civil service for the Department of Defense, Dr. Tavares entered solo private practice in 2013 and holds medical staff privileges at The Queen’s Medical Center.
Dr. Tavares is triple board certified. He is ABMS double board certified in Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. The ABMS is the gold standard for assessing a physician’s competency and scope of practice by regulatory bodies, insurance companies, and hospitals. His third board certification is in Interventional Pain Management through the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP), which involved a rigorous examination process administered by national experts. Although ABIPP was formed in 2005 by leaders in the interventional pain management community, there are less than 300 certified physicians worldwide. Dr. Tavares also holds ABIPP competency certifications in Controlled Substance Management as well as Coding, Compliance, and Practice Management.
Dr. Tavares is a lifetime member of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians and serves as the Vice President for its Hawaii Chapter. He is also an active member of the Spine Intervention Society, The American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The primary mission at Hawaii Pain Center is to provide high quality specialized and individualized care to our patients with the goal of making them as independent and functional as possible. All patients are personally evaluated by Dr. Tavares at each visit. He treats various chronic non-cancer pain conditions, but his preference is towards spinal related disorders, such as back and neck pain with or without limb symptoms.
‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho‘okahi, all wisdom is not taught in one halau [school]. Following this Hawaiian proverb, Hawaii Pain is committed to interdisciplinary care among other providers to optimize each patient’s outcome. This may include coordinating care with therapists, pain psychologists, other medical specialists, surgeons, and complementary and alternative medicine providers.
Dr. Damien Tavares, M.D. performs a multitude of interventional procedures, which have scientific efficacy for the treatment of chronic pain. The most common procedures performed include epidural injections, radiofrequency neurolysis, sympathetic blocks, and spinal cord stimulator trials and implants. Most procedures are performed under image guidance for precision treatment. All procedures, with the exception of implants, are performed safely in the office. In addition to convenience, this reduces overall healthcare costs for both the patient and the insurance company by eliminating the facility fee associated with performing the procedure in a surgical center or hospital. A facility fee is an additional cost that can be several times that of a physician’s professional fee. Upon request, IV conscious sedation under continuous monitoring is provided during the procedure for patient comfort.
Pain clinics have traditionally been seen as places where patients can receive high doses of opioids to management their chronic pain. We now know unequivocally that there are many short and long term complications associated with opioid use and that there is a direct correlation between opioid dosage and the risk for overdose-related deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 44 people die each day in the United States from prescription opioid related complications. Due to the risks involved and the stringent requirements for monitoring patients receiving opioids, Dr. Tavares considers opioid treatment to be the most invasive and intrusive form of medical care. As a result, opioids are discouraged and are only provided to carefully selected patients who have exhausted alternative treatments and who are willing to undergo adjunct care as a component of an integrated program to maintain their function and minimize opioid usage. In addition, Hawaii Pain Center does not accept self-pay for patients who are solely interested in opioid prescriptions.
Drugs are of priceless value when needed, but they are at best emergency measures of most temporary utility….The more effective they are in the right place, the more harmful in the wrong one.”
After the successful treatment of chronic pain, especially with interventional pain management, many patients, in the absence of pain, come face-to-face with the reality of their opioid dependency. Many cannot function or feel “normal” without using opioids. Hawaii Pain Center is unique among pain clinics by offering patients suboxone treatment for opioid dependency or detoxification.
Another complication of chronic opioid use often overlooked is low testosterone. Symptoms include depressed mood, fatigue, decreased libido, poor concentration, and waning work performance. If a patient is found to have low testosterone and is unable to discontinue or reduce opioid usage, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may be indicated. TRT has also been shown to improve abnormal pain sensitivity which may facilitate opioid tapering.
Hawaii Pain Management Clinic also provides medical cannabis recommendations. There is growing evidence that medical cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain and neuropathic pain.2 Cannabis use was also found to be associated with 64% lower opioid use in patient with chronic pain.3 Furthermore, states with medical cannabis laws had nearly 25% fewer opioid related overdose deaths compared to states without medical cannabis access.4 Other than poorer periodontal health, a recently published study did not show any physical health problems in those with a history of up to 20 years of cannabis use.5 The Hawaii Department of Health suggests that medical marijuana cards be recommended by the provider treating the patient for the qualifying condition.