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Lab, Field, & Clinic
September 5, 2012

NIH Program Probes Neurological Basis of Chronic Pain, Complementary Therapies

JAMA. 2012;308(9):852. doi:10.1001/2012.jama.10461

Neuroscientist Catherine Bushnell, PhD, is returning to the National Institutes of Health—where her career began more than 30 years ago—to help the agency identify nondrug therapies for chronic pain.

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million US individuals, according to the Institute of Medicine, but it has proven difficult to treat. Some therapies, such as opioid medications, work only for a subset of patients and have problematic adverse effects. Many patients with chronic pain turn to complementary therapies for relief, but not enough is known about the potential of these interventions to modulate chronic pain. To fill this knowledge gap, Bushnell will lead a multi-institute effort, based at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), to probe the pain-modulating potential of nondrug interventions such as meditation and yoga.

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