It’s quite obvious that too many people in the United States are in pain, and traditional therapies are failing people in so many ways. Whether it’s addiction stemming from opiate-based pain treatment, or pain medicine decreasing in efficiency over time, too many people are struggling, and something has to change.
There have been increased talks on newer, non-pharmacological approaches for pain treatment, like medical marijuana, acupuncture, CBD in various forms, among other pain-related treatment methods. The NIH seems to agree that more has to be done. The National Institutes of Health through their National Institute of Aging has awarded a 5-year, $3 million dollar grant to the Weill Cornell Medicine. The grant was also extended to computer scientists at Cornell Tech and behavioral and social science researchers on Cornell’s Ithaca Campus.
According to the Cornell Chronicle, this grant is the third that has been received by Cornell’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life. It focuses on interventions that help people change behaviors contributing to pain. The research being funded is especially critical when considering the massive impacts of the opioid crisis on the health and wellness of the overall population.
Alternative pain management treatment research is still relatively new, with few researchers studying any pain management that goes beyond traditional drug therapies. Untreated pain can be incredibly hazardous to an individual and their family life. It can have serious emotional, physical and psychological reactions that are long-lasting. The pain can have serious consequences on a long-term scale as well. Chronic pain can affect a person’s ability to gain meaningful employment, to perform tasks, and can increase the strain on families and loved ones. It’s critical for research that goes beyond potentially dangerous pain medication to find substantial new methods to help people that are struggling.
This new research will especially focus on behavioral treatments for people in underrepresented communities. This will include people with cognitive impairment and disabilities, residents of rural areas, minorities, and those with HIV who are aging, all of these populations are more likely to suffer from chronic and untreated pain.
According to Karl Pillemer, who is the co-director on this grant as well as being the Hazal E. Reed Professor of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology, the teams performing this critical research will focus on the biopsychosocial model. This model, Professor Pillemer explains recognizes that pain is componential, made up of physical, psychological and social components
Some specific therapies that will be looked at will include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training, and mindfulness meditation, as well as exercise. The grant’s co-directors are Cary Reid, the Irving Sherwood Wright Associate Professor in Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Elaine Wethington, professor emeritus of human development and of sociology. And beyond all Cornell affiliated partners and researchers, there will also be partners that include elder-service providers, like LiveonNewYork.
Authored by Lianne Hikind