MQ Health - Macquarie University

Pain mechanisms and management

An episode of lower back pain occurs for the vast majority of Australians at some point during their lives, but when it recurs it can become a chronic and debilitating condition. Indeed, currently over 10% of Australians live with chronic back pain, and yet little is understood about the various causes that can underlie or contribute to this complex condition.

To help address this public health issue, MQ Health has a substantial research effort to better understand the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of recurrent back pain. For example, our researchers are leading, or contributing to, a number of studies and trials to assess risk factors for lower back pain, and which types of existing and new management approaches can reduce back pain and minimise the risk of recurrence.

They are also undertaking studies to understand whether medical imaging can be of any use to diagnose causes of back pain, or to determine the likely prognosis of patients and the best treatment approach. This remains an under-explored research space in modern medicine, despite the value of medical imaging for other conditions and diseases.

Further pain-related research within MQ Health is working towards a better understanding of, and new treatment options for, other forms of chronic pain, such as that caused by knee osteoarthritis, sciatica, neck injuries and other types of trauma.