The National Institute of Health (NIH) is ready to shell out the big bucks in order to better understand back pain.
Funding will be distributed among four different grants. All are intended to study treatment models of chronic back pain.
This news comes amid a rise in dangerous opioid prescriptions in the United States. These prescriptions have seemingly done little to reduce the prevalence of chronic pain, which is at epidemic levels. Some experts argue that the pharmaceutical industry has led back pain treatment astray, under a lack of scrutiny from federal regulators.
Now novel treatments of chronic back pain are starting to get some research and attention. We've examined some of the latest approaches. And the NIH appears ready to jump aboard this new wave. Here is the summary from Orthopedics This Week:
A new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) program called the Back Pain Consortium (BACPAC) Research Program, announced details December 10 of an offer of nearly $25 million in research grants under four programs in 2019, with more money over the next four years to grant winners.
Webinars on the grant programs, with question-and-answer periods, are set for these dates (posted December 13 on very short notice for the vital first one): December 19, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. eastern time; January 15, noon to 2:30 p.m.; and January 23, noon to 2:30 p.m. Advance registration is mandatory to join the webinars, but webinar attendance is not required to apply for the grants.
The first grant is approximately $15 million for a 5-year program about learning new integrated treatment models for chronic low back pain.
The second grant is for up to $6 million and the goal is to develop better data sharing on patient outcomes among researchers.
Grant number three is up to $2.6 million for developing new models of treatment using technology. And the fourth grant is going to clinical trials implementing non-addictive drugs.
January 26, 2019 is the deadline for sending in the first round of applications and letters of intent.
Why Is The NIH Interested In This?
The NIH is undoubtedly aware of the toll chronic pain takes on the U.S. healthcare system. Chronic pain sufferers can go years or even decades with their conditions, requiring frequent treatments and prescriptions just to live a somewhat functional life. From the grant web page:
Back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain among adults worldwide. According to National Health Interview Survey data, 20% of adults in the United States reported “frequent” back pain and 28% of adults experienced low back pain that lasted a whole day or more during the past three months. Out of all 291 conditions included in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, low back pain ranked highest in terms of years lived with disability. Back pain is over-represented among women and in people with low socioeconomic status. Children are also affected, a recent study indicated that the prevalence of low back pain in adolescents increases with age and reaches the levels observed in adults by age 18. There are disparities in the treatment of pain between whites and racial/ethnic minorities.
Treatment of chronic back pain is possible. We know of many specialists in private practice who have seen success with natural methods.