Gary B. Rollman,
Emeritus Professor of Psychology,
University of Western Ontario
(In addition to links below, see weekly archives in the right column)
Thursday, October 22, 2015
PA-14-244: Research on Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions (R01)
Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans and exacts large economic, social and personal costs. It is a major public health challenge that needs to be addressed at multiple levels including the generation of new scientific knowledge that will enhance our understanding of these conditions. Current research efforts in chronic pain conditions have focused on single disorders or types of pain such as neuropathic and inflammatory pain. These research efforts have generated a substantial body of information advancing our discovery and understanding of the underlying mechanisms of pain onset and development, the transition from acute to chronic pain, and promising therapeutic targets for treating acute and chronic pain. Over the past twenty years sporadic reports have documented the presence of more than one chronic pain condition in subjects with pain. Studies have identified overlap between a number of chronic pain conditions, including temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), fibromyalgia (FM), vulvodynia, functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine, and urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes (UCPPS). These results suggest that chronic pain conditions may not be localized conditions, but may share symptoms and mechanisms that involve a general central nervous system dysfunction as well as disorder-specific symptoms. More recent evidence is supportive of the idea that chronic pain conditions are complex disorders consistent with a biopsychosocial model of pain, and exhibit substantial overlap. Therefore, this may be an opportune time to encourage research efforts that focus, not on single pain conditions, but on subjects with multiple chronic pain disorders.
Chronic pain conditions represent a complex set of painful disorders that lack a firm mechanistic understanding, and are in need of hypothesis-driven research efforts. A new focus on overlapping pain conditions is warranted to develop therapies to prevent and treat these overlapping disorders and to develop approaches to better manage pain that can be disabling. A workshop sponsored by the NIH Pain Consortium was held in the summer of 2012 titled "A Workshop on Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions". It brought together researchers with expertise in various pain conditions and other relevant expertise to discuss these conditions and to develop a forward-thinking research agenda. The workshop focused on our current understanding of chronic overlapping pain conditions, their etiology, risk factors, mechanisms of disease, outcome measures, and diagnosis. Topics of discussion included epidemiology of chronic overlapping pain conditions, risk factors and mechanisms of disease, leveraging of current data sets, and new scientific approaches incorporating systems biology. The recommendations derived from this workshop have, in part, informed the development of this FOA.
Some of the overlapping pain conditions under consideration include, but are not limited to: chronic headache, migraine headache, temporomandibular joint disorder, generalized pain conditions, functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, urologic chronic pelvic pain, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and osteoarthritis.