The perception of pain is a complex multidimensional experience. Understanding the neural basis for how humans experience pain provides an important biological and mechanistic framework from which we can develop a better understanding of these multidimensional origins.
The work of the Pain Imaging group examines both the structural anatomical changes of the joints, and the neural processing of the experience of chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA) using high-field, multimodal, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Structural Neural Adaptation in Chronic Knee OA Pain
The capacity to monitor the status of the body, particularly injury, through the experience of pain is critical for our survival. However, the human brain may develop and change as a result of experiencing chronic pain over a prolonged period of time. The aim of this research is to investigate these quantitative adaptive structural changes in response to OA knee pain using advanced MRI techniques.
Functional Neural Network Adaptation in Processing Chronic Knee OA Pain
The central nervous system mechanisms that translate information about tissue damage into the conscious experience of pain remain poorly understood. The primary aim of this research is to better characterise fundamental aspects of neural pain processing networks in chronic OA knee pain and enhance our understanding of the central mechanisms involved in chronic OA knee pain processing using multi-modal high field MRI. Secondly, we hope to better characterise the neural signature of the psychological parameters associated with the experience of pain and enhance our understanding of central adaptive and regulatory processes that may contribute to the variability in pain processing between individuals.
Structural Changes of the Knee Joint in Knee OA
To complement our focus on the central nervous system, we also aim to improve characterisation of MRI features of the knee that may better predict the pain outcome in patients with knee OA. We will use standard knee MRI to define synovitis and BML (bone marrow lesions). In addition, advanced knee MRI including contrast-enhanced studies will be used to better characterise the tissue signature of BML and the abnormal vascularisation of the synovia which may be more closely associated with pain in OA.
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