Back pain is very common and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move. Back pain can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy and for others it can get worse slowly. Treatments usually involve some form of regular exercise, it doesn’t seem to matter which type of exercise or whether it is done at the gym or at home. The longer someone has back pain the more difficult it is to treat successfully and many do not fully recover, although the outlook is still positive.
Preventing people from developing long-term low back pain may be a more effective approach than trying to treat it once they have back pain. Luckily most episodes of back pain get better quickly. Keeping active, getting informed and avoiding bed rest usually speeds up recovery.
About our research
Our research is directed towards first understanding why some people with a low back pain don’t recover and develop longer term, or chronic, low back pain. We are developing and testing new interventions to treat those that already have chronic pain and approaches to prevent people from developing chronic pain in the first place. We are proposing that treatments targeting the brain in addition to traditional treatments might be more effective for reducing chronic low back pain. We are also proposing that rather than waiting to treat patients who already have chronic low back pain, much better outcomes are likely to be achieved if we intervene early to reduce the risk of developing chronic low back pain after an acute episode.
To participate in our research
Please contact the research team:
Phone: 02 9399 1627
Associate Professor James McAuley, Senior Research Scientist and head of the Pain, Research, Education and Management Program at NeuRA, has a strong philosophy of taking knowledge obtained by research beyond the confines of academia and into the community.
To achieve this, James and his research team have been giving presentations to community groups on “New ways to prevent and treat back pain”.
The presentations are popular and well received with up to 120 people attending each event. It runs for one hour, with an additional 20mins allocated to questions. The presentations are free of charge.
If you are interested in booking Assoc Professor McAuley and his team for a presentation, please contact Pauline Zahara – firstname.lastname@example.org or 9399 1049.
Social media is a potentially powerful tool to provide a message of education and reassurance to the general public about low back pain. This project will use social media to educate the general public about low back pain and promote self-management.
The project involves three stages. Firstly, we will conduct a content analysis to gain an insight into social media users’ perceptions and understanding about low back pain. This could determine whether social media could serve as an educational tool through which accurate information related to low back pain could be disseminated to the public.
Second, a recent Delphi survey of 150 low back pain researchers identified 30 key messages considered to be important for the general public to know about LBP. These statements provide evidence-based information on the diagnosis, prognosis and management of LBP and are intended to educate, reassure and promote self-management. We will investigate the attitude of the general public towards these messages.
Third, working in conjunction with a media company Y&R, we will design and test a social media campaign to encourage self-management for people with low back pain.
Low back pain (LBP) is ranked as the top single cause of disability worldwide. Costs have risen faster than for any other health condition and LBP is now equal to ischemic heart disease, and second only to cancer, as the costliest health condition. Approximately 40% of people who experience acute LBP develop chronic pain. These individuals are unresponsive to treatment, experience high levels of pain, struggle to perform daily tasks and frequently develop psychosocial comorbidities. The enormous scale of the problem is matched only by the mystery that accompanies it: despite decades of research, why some people develop chronic LBP while others do not, remains unknown.
The identification of biomarkers that can predict who will develop chronic LBP is a holy grail of pain research. Our new research has uncovered evidence for a unique biomarker signature that appears to predict i) an individual’s susceptibility to high pain severity, even before pain begins and ii) an individual’s susceptibility to developing chronic LBP following an acute episode. These biomarkers are now undergoing detailed investigation in on-going studies.
Medicines are the most common treatment for back pain. The aim of this program of research is to improve our understanding of the clinical effects of medicines.
Studies currently in progress:
Medicines for Back Pain – Publications:
Medicines for Back Pain – Registrations of Study Protocols:
On August 11 2019, 54 people took on the City2Surf for Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). The event is the world’s largest fun run with 80,000 participants taking on the 14km course, which stretches from Hyde Park in central Sydney to the iconic Bondi Beach. NeuRA thanks all of its fundraisers, who raised an incredible $30,903. This funding will further NeuRA’s […]