“Psychobiological analysis of musculoskeletal pain and the development of mechanism-based treatment components”

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Herta Flor

We will examine to what extent enhanced central sensitization and deficient descending inhibition as assessed by stress analgesia are core characteristics of widespread muskuloskeletal pain and how they differ in localized pain. We will also evaluate to what extent early life stress, comorbidity with mental disorder and pain-related resources and coping strategies modulate these centrally mediated responses. To test these hypotheses we will use behavioural and subjective, and psychophysical pain assessments and combine them with functional magnetic resonance imaging of sensitization and stress analgesia in patients with localized and widespread pain compared to patients with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and matched healthy controls. By using compounds that modulate the endocannabinoid system we will assess its role in sensitization and descending inhibition. Finally, we will define subgroups of patients with varying extent of these psychobiological markers and develop mechanism-based treatment interventions that can be tested in the next funding period. In cooperation with Prof. Schmelz, we will examine the central effects and nerve growth factor and in cooperation with Prof. Becker we will examine treatment-related effects on these core variables.

Link: http://www.zi-mannheim.de/index.php?id=848&type=0