Chronic pain


Understanding how the brain is involved in chronic pain


One in five Australians experience chronic pain that is serious enough to disable them, costing the country approximately $35 billion a year. People who experience chronic pain (pain that continues for more than three months) often struggle to find effective treatment, and can experience disability and even depression.

We are conducting research into the nature of chronic pain, looking at the role of our brain in the experience of persistent pain, and changes in the central nervous system that may also occur.

We are also investigating why some people develop excessive pain in response to injury, developing a disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.


SLEEPain clinical trial

In this randomised controlled trial we are investigating whether a simple sleep intervention can not only improve sleep quality of patients with acute low back pain but also lead to reduced pain and disability.

RESOLVE clinical trial

Our NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial for chronic low back pain focuses on normalising sensation from the back.

PREVENT clinical trial

This NHMRC funded randomised controlled study aims to prevent people with acute low back pain developing chronic low back pain using an optimised pain education approach. In this intervention a specially trained pain clinician provides two one-hour consultations with a patient with acute low back pain to discuss their condition.

Identifying cortical and subcortical sites responsible for the divergent sympathetic responses to long-lasting muscle pain

We are trying to identify how a constant sensory input (muscle pain) causes two divergent patterns of sympathetic response: an increase in MSNA and blood pressure in some individuals and a decrease in others.

The effects of tonic muscle pain on the sympathetic and somatic motor systems

Chronic pain, defined as pain lasting for >3 months, typically develops from injuries to deep tissues such as muscle, yet little is known about how long-lasting pain affects a person’s blood pressure or capacity to control their muscles. This project assesses the effects of tonic muscle pain on sympathetic nerve activity and stretch sensitivity of muscle spindles.

What else is happening in Chronic pain research at NeuRA?