Research on Pain

In order to contribute to knowledge in this area and maintain the best possible standards of care, the HammondCare Greenwich Hospital Pain Clinic has an active research program.

A number of projects are being conducted to help us understand how pain works and to evaluate the effectiveness of our treatments. All treatments are evaluated and patients may be requested to complete questionnaires before and after treatment to enable us to determine how effective their treatment has been. Therefore your feedback and response is extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

Patients also have the opportunity to take part in research trials that help us understand pain better or evaluate new treatments. However, there is no compulsion to take part in any research project and your care will not be affected whether you decide to participate or not. In addition, if you do agree to take part in any research project, you may withdraw at any time if you decide you longer want to take part. All research projects are approved and monitored by an ethics committee who ensure that the research is worthwhile and properly conducted.

docsCurrent projects

Outpatient pain self-management program

This is a pilot study lead by HammondCare that evaluates a cognitive behavioural pain program. The program involved participants receiving pain education and being instructed in pain self management skills with a focus on relaxation, exercise, acceptance, graded exposure, recovery of meaning and purpose and re-engagement in activities.

Pain following spinal cord injury

Over one half of people with spinal cord injury suffer from chronic pain and we have a strong background of research in this area. In partnership with a number of collaborators, we are conducting studies focused on trying to understand the cause and improving the treatment and care of people who have this type of pain. With funding from the NHMRC and in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sydney Neural Imaging Laboratory we are currently exploring the brain mechanisms underlying neuropathic spinal cord injury pain using brain imaging techniques.

In addition, we are currently supported by the Lifetime Care and Support Authority to develop an improved model of care and resources for people with pain following spinal cord injury. This is being done in collaboration with the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, and clinicians at the University of Sydney Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Macquarie University and the University of Western Sydney.

Pain and existential distress

Chronic pain can have a deep impact on people’s lives that makes them question fundamental issues of meaning and purpose which contributes to their experience of pain and overall suffering. Although these issues are not widely recognised or addressed in the field of pain management, initial work by our team shows that people with chronic pain have higher levels of existential distress than people who have cancer. In collaboration with staff in the Palliative Care Unit at Greenwich Hospital and with funding from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, researchers in the Clinic are assessing the impact of pain on these issues and how addressing them may assist people with pain.

Pain and neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity of the brain and spinal cord is an important contributor to chronic pain. Many people with chronic pain have sensitisation of the central nervous system that amplifies and worsens their experience of pain. Although we know this physiologically, identifying it and treating it in the clinic is still poorly understood.

In collaboration with researchers at the Pain Management Research Institute and the Department of Gastroenterology at Royal North Shore Hospital, we are conducting studies to measure levels of central sensitisation in different conditions to understand how central sensitisation contributes to the experience of pain and how it can be addressed.