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Alex Scott

Is pain processed differently in people with chronic shoulder pain?

After a soft tissue injury, nerves in the area send “threat” signals (nociceptive action potentials) to the pain system in the spinal cord and brain. The brain then generates pain to get our attention and make us behave in ways to protect ourselves. But sometimes the system is too good at generating pain. In people with chronic pain, the central pain system can become sensitized, and this sensitization can make rehabilitation very difficult.

Alex and Lyndal’s study will assess a series of patients with rotator cuff injuries to see if there is any evidence of nervous system sensitization, particularly in the spinal cord. We desperately need better treatments for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and this type of research can help point us towards new treatment strategies.

To the many donors of the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada, Alex and Lyndal would like to say thank you:

“Without the support of the PFC and the Pain Science Division, we would not be able to grow the evidence in pain sciences, which can improve patient care.”


Dr. Scott and his UBC team were the recipients of the 2018 Pain Science Division Grant for Pain Research of the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada.

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