The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing has received a three-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant totaling more than $1.2 million to study the influence of genetic factors on pain perception and how this may contribute to an increased risk of chronic low back pain.

Persistent back pain affects nearly 36 million Americans every year. It is one of the most costly conditions in the United States when considering direct medical expenses and lost productivity. Although most cases of acute low back pain will resolve in less time than six weeks, an estimated 40 percent of patients will continue to suffer from debilitating pain even after receiving standard health care treatment, according to Angela Starkweather, Ph.D., principal investigator of the grant.

“This sets up a really frustrating course for the patient,” Starkweather said. “Pain is usually a protective mechanism that alerts the body of injury, but for patients with chronic low back pain, it’s no longer protective and it can be very difficult to find an effective treatment.”

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School of Nursing_Angela Starkweather
Dr. Angela Starkweather
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems
Categories Faculty and Staff, Research
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