University of Tulsa Searches For Chronic Pain Cure

Monday, August 19th 2019, 11:29 pm
By: Justin Shrair

Researchers at a lab at the University of Tulsa are studying pain and the nervous system.

The lab focuses on risk factors that can lead someone to develop chronic pain down the road. Researchers at TU study the pain systems in healthy people with the ultimate goal to cure chronic pain before it happens.

In the basement at the University of Tulsa is the PLAN lab, which is also known as the Psychophysiology Lab for Affective Neuroscience. It's a long name, but its mission is simple, to study pain.

One of the tools used are Von Frey Hairs.

"You press it against the skin until it bends and then you can ask the person did you feel it," said Jamie Rhudy Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Tulsa. He runs the lab.

Another tool heats up to help monitor someone’s response to heat.

"That individual difference might tell us this person whose saying its searing hot maybe one of those people that is at risk for pain because their body is amplifying that signal," said Rhudy.

The researchers can even see how the brain responds to a painful event. The goal, is to study pain to better predict who is at risk for developing chronic pain, and to help those already dealing with it to better manage it. 

"The real question is how can we intervene to reduce the prevalence of chronic pain so that people don't have to expose themselves to potentially dangerous substances," said Rhudy.

Second Year Masters student Erin Ross said some of the ways you can manage pain at home is to eat healthy, exercise three to four times a week and work on your sleeping habits.

"To be able to teach as many people as I can skills to manage their chronic pain without resorting to medication and this lab really helps me do that," said Ross.

The end goal to stop chronic pain before it happens.

"We really want to know specifically what are the markers of chronic pain, and how can we intervene and to stop them before you ever get there," said Ross.

For their current study, they're looking for volunteers with or without type two diabetes who don't have chronic pain.

To get in contact with the lab, call 918-631-3565.

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