The Midwest Pain Consortium is a collaboration between the University of Cincinnati (UC) and the University of Michigan (UM) that aims to understand how chronic pain arises in women with knee osteoarthritis. Recently, researchers from the consortium announced their sponsorship of a new study that will evaluate (using neuroimaging techniques), the brain and spinal mechanisms that may be related with the etiology of chronic pain. The study will be co-led by Lesley Arnold, MD and Professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at UC and Dan Clauw, MD and Professor of Anesthesiology, medicine and Psychiatry at the UM.
In the United States, chronic pain (defined as pain that remains for at least three months) has been estimated to affect nearly 100 million people. Chronic pain can be mild or severe, episodic or continuous and ultimately can be incapacitating. Normal complaints include headaches, joint pain, pain from injury and backaches. Associated problems include fatigue, sleeplessness, withdrawal from routine activities, weakened immune system, emotional distress and disability. At the moment, treatments are merely symptomatic and the etiology remains poor understood.
“There is a pressing need to develop more effective and safe treatments for the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain,” said Arnold, also UC Heath Clinician with specialization in chronic pain and fibromyalgia in a recent news release. “While there has been tremendous progress in our understanding of the brain ad spinal mechanisms that are involved in human pain transmission, any gaps still exists on our understanding of chronic pain disorders and current treatment of chronic pain remains only modestly effective in most individuals.”
The Midwest Pain Consortium was formed last June 2014, and is a partnership between the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan and Eli Lilly and Company. The Consortium was launched with the goal of developing answers to common medical issues. The study that is going to evaluate pain associated with chronic osteoarthritis is the first project of this collaboration.
The researchers hope that the data provided by neuroimaging can increase the comprehension of how the brain responds to pain. The aim of the researchers is that the identification of specific areas of the brain that can potentially provide knowledge to the development of clinical studies and/or specific therapeutic options.