Back pain

HEALTH INFORMATION

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:
email: pain@neura.edu.au
Phone: 02 9399 1627

Community presentations

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 –  p.zahara@neura.edu.au or 9399 1049.

Newsletters

 

OUR LATEST RESEARCH

RESOLVE - RECRUITING NOW

For people with long term back pain that is not getting better. We are testing two pain treatment programs that target the brain, for people with chronic low back pain.

DISCOVER-pain: Discovery of a cortical biomarker signature for 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 for Back Pain

Medicines are a common treatment for back pain. The aim of this program of research is to improve our understanding of the clinical effects of medicines. Several studies constitute this program. 
 
Studies: 
1. A scoping review of analgesic medicines for chronic low back pain
The objective of this study is to identify the available clinical trials of medicines for chronic low back pain.  
This information will contribute to the methodology of Study 3. 
 
2. Evaluation of the impact of unpublished data from clinical trial registries on the effects of medicines for low back pain. 
The objective of this study is to evaluate whether there is a difference between clinical trial data that are published and those that are not published. 
This information will contribute to the methodology of Study 3. 
 
3. Paracetamol, NSAIDs and opioid analgesics for chronic low back pain: a network meta-analysis. 
The objective of this study is to produce information about the clinical effects of available analgesic medicines for chronic low back pain. This information will be available in a Cochrane review to assist clinical prescription of medicines.
Related Publications: 
Bagg MK et al. (2018). Paracetamol, NSAIDS and opioid analgesics for chronic low back pain: a network meta-analysis [Protocol]. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 6.doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD013045

SLEEPAIN

For people with back pain who are having trouble with their sleep. We are testing whether a simple sleep tablet will help people reduce their pain and sleep better.

PREVENT

For people with a new low back pain episode. We are testing early intervention to reduce the risk of developing chronic low back pain.

What else is happening in Back pain research at NeuRA?

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Ten siblings. One third live (or have passed away) with dementia.

The scourge of dementia runs deep in Lorna Clement's family. Of the eleven children her dear parents raised, four live (or have passed away) with complications of the disease. Her mother also died of Alzheimer's disease, bringing the family total to five. This is the mystery of dementia - One family, with two very different ageing outcomes. You will have read that lifestyle is an important factor in reducing the risk of dementia. We also know diet is a key factor, and an aspect that Dr Ruth Peter's is exploring at NeuRA. Along with leading teams delivering high profile evidence synthesis work in the area of dementia risk reduction, Dr Peters has a particular interest in hypertension (that is, high blood pressure) and in the treatment of hypertension in older adults. “We have known for a while that treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but it is becoming clearer that controlling blood pressure may also help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Now we need to know what the best blood pressure is to protect brain health.” You are invited to read more about Lorna's story and Dr Peter's work, by clicking 'Read the full story' below. Please support dementia research at NeuRA Will you consider a gift today to help Dr Peter's unlock the secrets of healthy ageing and reduce the risk of dementia? Research into ageing and dementia at NeuRA will arm doctors and other medical professionals with the tools they need to help prevent dementia in our communities. Thank you for your support.
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