Improving chronic pain through targeted brain-based mechanisms
Main location of work
Why the work is important
Chronic pain is one of the largest global health problems affecting 20% of adults and costing the UK economy ~£10 billion annually. Patients suffer anxiety, depression, addiction and sleep disturbance leading to further physical deterioration. Pain has been identified as a key priority area for pharma and the NHS with current treatment strategies recognised as inadequate. This Theme will focus on identifying personalised, mechanism-based approaches for the better management and treatment of chronic pain.
There are five Work Packages
WP1 will test whether CBT-based sleep interventions improve cognition and pain in fibromyalgia, a condition resulting in pain all over the body and extreme tiredness.
WP2 will determine the parameters for better targeting of psychological interventions for pain relief.
WP3 will establish the principles of a primary- care based multidisciplinary course for opioid addiction.
WP4 will expand on the group’s work on brain mechanisms related to pain perception, pain relief and persistent chronic pain.
WP5 will use the patient datasets to identify risk factors for pain vulnerability and persistence. The ultimate goal is to predict who gets persistent chronic pain and understanding why.
What work will be carried out
WP1- The CBT-based intervention (Sleepio) will be used to measure improvements in cognition and pain in fibromyalgia with a view the implementing one successful sleep intervention in a chronic pain cohort within the five-year funding period.
WP2- studies will be undertaken of psychological interventions which are the focus of modern pain management to understand which are best targeted for pain relief. The focus is determining the digital (bio) markers of changepoints in learning of health behaviour and their link to pain reduction in chronic pain patients.
WP3- Opioid addiction is a growing health problem. This work will develop a primary-care based course with group sessions used to aid patients suffering from opioid addiction. It aims to roll out an optimised multidisciplinary course and evaluate its effectiveness.
WP4– The focus is developing better brain stimulation devices alongside other interventions to treat pain.
WP5- Data mining of the UK Biobank and other Oxford-curated patient datasets will be undertaken to identify factors predicting pain persistence in patients with sciatica.
Patient and public involvement, engagement and participation
All researchers in the Theme have well established patient advisory groups, patient partners and links with charities ensuring patients are at the heart of all proposed work. It is acknowledged that pain has no barriers so diverse representation is a key consideration.
Increasing research capacity and critical mass
Regional disparities regarding access to pain treatments exist and the Theme is committed to capacity building both the clinical and research workforce to ensure we improve the understanding, treatment and management of chronic pain.