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Major New Study of Arthritis Pain Underway

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By Deborah Cooper • • June 29, 2000

Does osteoarthritis pain differ from pain responses in healthy people? That is the question researchers hope to answer in a new study underway at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Scientists are looking at brain activity associated with pain in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. The role of the central nervous system will be closely monitored and hopefully the results will lead to new drug and pain management therapies.

“We’re interested in determining how brain responses to pain differ in people with knee osteoarthritis from healthy people,” commented Laurence Bradley, Ph.D., co-principal investigator for the study. “There is evidence that people who experience prolonged periods of pain may become more sensitive to pain.”

During the study researchers will apply pressure to four points on the knee and will use neuroimaging to observe changes that occur in areas of the brain responsible for processing pain-related information.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 20 million Americans. It most often affects weight-bearing joints, such as knees and hips. Although usually associated with aging, obesity and genetics may also be risk factors for the disease.

The study is still accepting volunteers. For more information contact Brain Kersh at (205) 975-9614 or (205) 934-9614.

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