Back pain research wins international prize

Tuesday, 6 May 2003

An investigation into the cause of lower back pain by an Adelaide research group has been awarded the world's most prestigious prize in basic spinal research.

The prize, awarded by the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, was for the Adelaide group's research into the nerve supply of the intervertebral disc.

The study found the greatest concentration of nerves, and therefore the greater sensitivity to pain, to be in the periphery of the disc, with a smaller concentration in the central part of the adjoining vertebrae.

The findings indicate that back pain cannot originate from the central region of the disc itself, which lacks a nerve supply essential for carrying the sensation of pain. Treatment of pain arising in the disc therefore should focus on the outer innervated zone.

The work was conducted in the Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research and involved collaboration between researchers from the Spinal Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), Division of Tissue Pathology at the Institute for Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS) and Department of Pathology at the University of Adelaide.

The successful team comprised Dr Andrew Fagan (Orthopaedic Surgeon and PhD student, Orthopaedics and Trauma), Dr Robert Moore (Head, Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research and Affiliate Senior Lecturer, Pathology), Professor Peter Blumbergs (Clinical Professor, Pathology), Professor Barrie Vernon-Roberts (Director IMVS and former Head of Pathology) and Professor Robert Fraser (Clinical Professor, Orthopaedics and Trauma, University of Adelaide).

Professors Vernon-Roberts and Fraser have won this prestigious international award (formerly known as the Volvo award) on two previous occasions.

"This is a prestigious award from the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine and shows that spinal research from this group in Adelaide is regarded highly by the international community," Dr Moore says.

"Adelaide is at the cutting edge of back pain research, and our work has many implications for the potential treatment and future prevention of back pain."


Contact Details

Dr Robert Moore
Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research
Business: +61 8 8222 3219