Pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, and is the single most common reason people seek medical care. While acute pain episodes are typically time-limited and can be treated reasonably well in most cases, chronic pain – which affects about 20% of the adult population – is largely undertreated. Especially challenging is neuropathic pain, a consequence of damage or disease affecting the central or the peripheral nervous systems.
Chronic pain may be related to concomitant medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis or cancer), be of unknown origin, or be a result of a treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy, that was aimed to cure a disease or improve patients’ quality of life. It is an enormous and costly effort to match the right analgesic treatment (or combination of treatments) to the right patient – the therapy that will allow good pain relief and improved quality of life, but will not cause side effects. Currently, this individual treatment “tailoring” is more of an art than a science.
By applying translational research, we explore methods to prevent chronic pain when possible, and to make the individualized pain management a science.