Placebo vs nocebo: same-same or different?

The role of expectation in diminishing pain (as we might see in the ‘placebo effect’) has been pretty thoroughly studied.  As a result of that research, we know that experiences of pain usually fall in line with expectations of pain, that expectations (and, therefore, pain) can be manipulated with either verbal information (e.g. ‘this will be less … [Read more...]

Are symptoms of depression a risk factor for low back pain?

It is well known that both low back pain and depression are highly prevalent, costly, and disabling conditions. The prevalence of patients suffering with both is high. Clinicians often encounter these complex patients and face challenging decisions for their management. Our research group, led by Dr Paulo Ferreira from the Arthritis and … [Read more...]

Tweeting Back

Globally, around 3.2-billion people are connected to the Internet. Online technologies are now ever-present in daily life, and they are influencing healthcare in new and exciting ways. The World Health Organisation has defined this phenomenon as “eHealth” - the practice of medicine and public health supported by electronic processes and … [Read more...]

The Pain Squad App

We know that pain is one of the most common and distressing symptoms for children with cancer. This pain results from many different aspects of cancer and its treatment, including things like chemotherapy, surgeries and repeated needle pokes with blood work and other tests. Pain can negatively impact on many aspects of a child’s life. To best treat … [Read more...]

Anaesthetizing forearm decreases sensorimotor impairment and cortical excitability in CRPS

When reading this title some people who work in the pain field might think: why anaesthetize the forearm when the hand is in pain? Actually, this “first step approach” was not intended to interrupt pain chronicity but to increase knowledge in basic pain physiology. Sometimes, the overall aim to alleviate pain can put us under pressure and can … [Read more...]

Identification of pain from facial expressions using spatial frequency information

We often hear that pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience which is highly personal and subjective. However, pain also happens in a social context and we are beginning to understand more about how we communicate pain to others. As well as talking about pain we also know that pain can be communicated to others through nonverbal … [Read more...]

Vitamin D, osteoarthritis and pain

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative (aaagh – what a threatening word that is!) condition of joints which gets worse over time[1]. It is the leading reason for knee and hip replacement surgery - about 1.8 million Australians were diagnosed with OA in 2011-12.[1] A new study[2] has set out to determine if vitamin D might be a key moderator of the … [Read more...]

Giving Thanks: A Means to Improve Your Health 

My family has a tradition that every year at Thanksgiving we all go around the table sharing what we are thankful for. My dad was grateful for his current passion for the guitar, my brother for the new Fallout 4 video game and mom for her upcoming retirement. High on my list was sleep, having just finished my Doctorate in Physical Therapy … [Read more...]

Can romantic partners help to reduce pain?

Often times, when we experience pain, we are not alone. We call upon friends, family, and romantic partners to help support us through the pain. Our research team was interested in whether this social context affects an individual’s pain experience. We conducted two experimental studies with romantic couples to understand more about how romantic … [Read more...]

What is acceptance of pain and why would anyone want it?

Over recent decades, a reasonable amount of data has been generated which suggests that greater acceptance of chronic pain is associated with fewer pain-related difficulties, such as distress and disability, and better overall quality of life (for reviews, see: McCracken & Vowles, 2014; Scott & McCracken, 2015; Vowles & Thompson, 2011). … [Read more...]