Chronic musculoskeletal pain limits daily activities for millions of Australians every year, particularly involving muscles and joints.
More than 45% of veterans of the Australian Defence Force in Iraq or Afghanistan reported chronic pain (Centre for Military and Veterans’s Health 2012.) It is complex to manage and treat chronic pain. Before pain is consciously experienced at brain level, there are multiple levels of processing of pain signals, in nerves supplying muscles and joints, and in nerves travelling to both the spinal cord and the brain. Pain signals can be amplified or diminished during this process, affecting pain intensity, disability and the benefit of treatments, People with Chronic pain often have desensitisation, so their cells in the central nervous system amplify incoming pain signals. In a current study led by A/Prof Lynley Bradnam, clinicians and researchers are developing a facility to better detect pain sensitization to improve treatment for patients with chronic shoulder pain and other conditions such as low back pain, osteoarthritis and chronic tendinopathy.