The United States is facing a crisis not only in opioid misuse and overdose, but also in effective treatment options for many suffering from high levels of chronic pain. More and more Americans are suffering from chronic pain, creating an urgent need for safer, more effective pain treatments to reduce long-term reliance on opioids. One major challenge is the ability to prevent chronic pain after an acute pain event. Currently, researchers don’t fully understand how acute pain becomes chronic pain in some people and not others. This is a major barrier to development of effective chronic pain prevention strategies. Markers or a “signature” that could be identified in people at risk to transition to chronic pain could transform how we currently treat patients with acute pain and how we approach prevention of chronic pain. The Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures program is designed to uncover a set of biomarkers that provide a signature predictive of the transition from acute to chronic pain by studying groups of patients over the six months after an acute pain event.

This program is part of the larger comprehensive NIH strategy to combat the opioid epidemic. In April 2018, the NIH launched HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis The NIH HEAL website lists some of the areas of focus identified as NIH opportunities to combat the current opioid crisis.

This page last reviewed on June 7, 2018