Research Hub

Pain research is growing rapidly at the Churack Chair. Key research areas are;

  • Neuroscience
  • Neuropathic pain & CRPS
  • Acute-to-chronic pain transition
  • Musculoskeletal pain (e.g. back, knee, ‘whiplash’)
  • Headaches & migraine
  • Pain and anxiety
  • Pain education

The Churack Chair supervises research by a post-doctoral PhD research Fellow, three PhD candidates, one MPhil candidate, two Honours students and two nurses, with two prospective MPhil candidates for 2017.

Many of our research projects are managed in conjunction with Professor Peter Drummond and his team at Centre for Research on Chronic Neuropathic Pain and Inflammatory Diseases, Murdoch University, St John of God Healthcare and PainScience at Joondalup Health Campus.

Post-doctoral pain neurosciences research fellowship (2017-2019)

UNDA and Murdoch University have established a pain neurosciences post-doctoral research fellowship after receiving a generous start-up grant from the ANZCA Foundation Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists and corporate sponsors. We also received the inaugural Elaine Lillian Kluver ANCZA Research Award for 2017 for establishing this new and unique academic fellowship.

General Practitioners

We need your help with our chronic low back pain study:

The MIGRANT migraine study

What is the project about? Migraine affects 15% of the population and is a leading cause of pain, suffering and disability in our community. Research suggests that inflammation of the brain’s coverings (meninges) by nerve cells releases ‘oxygen free radicals’ that may cause migraine attacks. N-acetylcysteine, Vitamin E and Vitamin C are powerful, safe and easily available (over-the-counter) ‘’anti-oxidants’’ which may lessen brain inflammation and in turn reduce the number and severity of migraines. The MIGRANT migraine study has enrolled 90 migraine patients to see if this treatment will reduce migraine attacks.

In the process a cutting-edge online headache research tool named the Churack Virtual Headache Research Diary has been developed for use by other researchers in the future.

This vitamin-based therapy has never been studied before and if effective, may play an important role in migraine prevention. Eamon McDonnell, a Medical student at The University of Notre Dame is undertaking this as an Honours project. A grant from the FHMRF was received last year to assist with the study.

The PAINCHECKER pain management checklist system

An online best-practice checklist system for GPs and medical students is currently being developed for use to help manage chronic back pain and soon, neck pain, nerve pain, fibromyalgia and headaches.

The Painchecker website is nearly complete and in October it will be tested with GPs and students. The Painchecker is planned to be launched early next year for general use by medical professionals and students via the new Churack Chair website.

What is the project about?

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) affects 10% of the population and is one of the world's top 10 disease burdens, associated with pain, disability and massive healthcare and economic costs. CLBP can be difficult to manage. No single mode of treatment is usually sufficient and instead requires a multimodal, multidisciplinary approach.

Checklists have long been used in industries such as aviation and engineering to promote best-practice and safety. A practical online checklist tool for low back pain that can be used by a GP during consultations will be developed. The tool will also provide links for persons-in-pain to help then with self-management.

Post graduate research

The Churack Chair is supervising two PhD students, one Honours student, two medical students in research with two prospective PhD candidates for 2017

Publications due soon

  • Acupuncture for acute pain in the emergency department (systematic review and meta-analysis).
  • Pain education for medical students (systematic review).

Proposed research projects for 2017

  • Audit of pain, analgesia use and adverse effects in the first week after day-case surgery.
  • Virtual reality to reduce pain and anxiety after surgery in patients on an acute pain service .
  • Lorazepam to reduce chest pain and related anxiety in the emergency department.
  • Trancranial TENS for medication overuse headache.
  • Naltrexone for the treatment of chronic pain disorders (meta-analysis).
  • Establish the Churack UNDA/Murdoch University post doctoral research fellowship in pain neuroscience.