Chronic Pain Division Overview

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Understanding chronic pain

Pain is the number one reason that patients seek medical care and there are currently more people in the United States suffering from chronic pain than those diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes combined. Researchers in the Chronic Pain Division of the IND are investigating the mechansims that separate and define chronic pain conditions in an attempt to develop more effective therapeutic treatments. From chronic pain arising from disease, such as diabetes or cancer, to pain syndromes with no associated pathology, such as fibromyalgia, migraine and chronic pelvic  pain syndromes, our goal is to understand how the affected tissues and brain communicate, or more importantly, are having the wrong conversation.

Physicians and investigators in the Chronic Pain Division are engaged in collaborative, translational programs aimed at understanding chronic pain disorders. Translational teams with multidisciplinary interests and strengths in basic and clinical science skills work closely to identify areas of urgent need for better research and treatment in these disparate and complicated pain disorders.

Expertise within the Chronic Pain Division focuses on the following conditions:

Fibromyalgia and related musculo-skeletal pain syndromes: Chronic conditions characterized by pain and tenderness of muscles, tendons and joints. Patients affected by the syndrome often suffer from chonic fatigue syndrome, and the majority has sleep disorders. It is most commonly diagnosed in women between 40 and 55, frequently in association with the onset of menopause. Ninety percent of patients with fibromyalgia are women, affecting up to 8 million women in the United States. Related female-prevalent musculo-skeletal pain disorders include conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Migraine headaches are characterized by a feeling of throbbing or pulsing, often on one side of the head. This is often accompanied by nausea and hypersensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. Approximately 75 percent of all migraine sufferers are women, and a change in hormonal status during the reproductive cycle is a frequent trigger. Some 30 million people in the United States suffer from migraines.

Pelvic pain is estimated to affect 17 percent of the adult female population, and more than 90 percent of individuals with pelvic pain are women. This painful condition is sometimes associated with endometriosis in women of child-bearing age. However, one type of pelvic pain (vulvar vestibulitis) has been noted to occur following use of oral contraceptives at an early age, while another (dysesthetic vulvodynia) often occurs at the onset of menopause.


Chronic Pain Division Investigators

Nancy Berman, PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology
Jeanne Drisko, MD, Integrative Medicine
Tomas Griebling, MD, MPH, Surgery Urology
Beth Levant, PhD, Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics
Teresa Long, MD, Psychiatry & Behavior Science
Kenneth McCarson, PhD, Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics
Michael Moncure, MD, FACS, Trauma and Critical Care
Michael Rapoff, PhD, ABPP, Pediatrics
Peter Smith, PhD, KIDDRCE
Kim Templeton, MD, Surgery Orthopedics
Yunxia Wang, MD, Neurology
Doug Wright, PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology

Last modified: Apr 10, 2018
Division Directors

Division Director:
Julie Christianson, PhD

Associate Director:
Andrea Nicol, MD

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