NHMRC Pain Funding Welcomed But More Needed For Less Recognised Forms
The latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding has provided more than $10 million for important pain-related research, with a heavy focus on arthritis and other musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.
Seventeen pain-related projects were approved for funding, 14 of them for MSK conditions and the remaining three for pain-related drug therapies. Monash University received a significant portion of the funding, with almost $2.5 million allocated to the Australia and New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network.
While the focus on MSK conditions is welcome – they acount for 60% of GP consultations involving a patient with chronic pain and are the most common reason people of working age drop out of the workforce – we should also consider less recognised forms of pain, which in themselves cause significant disability and suffering for individuals and families while adding to the economic burden of pain.
One to two million Australians are living with migraine, headache, pelvic pain, nerve pain or other chronic pain condition that makes it difficult for them to work or function effectively. Nerve pain is considered one of the most severe forms of pain and there are some nerve conditions, such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, known to have particular impact on mental health.
Chronic pain is prevalent in children and adolescents at the same rate as adults, and there are wide-reaching consequences when pain is untreated or poorly treated – impacting future earning capacity and quality of life, and also adversley affecting siblings and parents.
We hope the NHMRC will give consideration to a broader range of chronic pain conditions in future funding allocations. With one in five Australians affected by chronic pain, and at a cost of more than $34.3 billion per annum, there is every reason to discover new insights and develop better treatment options.