Completed Research Studies

To learn more about research we've conducted in the past, see the descriptions below. Our publications page has links to access our published articles. 

Thermal Temporal Summation Paradigm

Our recent article describes the development of an individualized protocol to investigate thermal temporal summation.  Read a summary of the article here.

Using MRI to Detect When Someone is Experiencing Pain 

Our team published a paper on using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine whether an individual was experiencing a painful stimulus. Read a summary of the article here.

Using MRI to Detect Low Back Pain

We recently published a study on the use of MRI to detect whether a patient has low back pain.  Read a summary of this study here.

Low Dose Naltrexone and Fibromalgia

Our second study on the use of Low Dose Naltrexone to treat Fibromyalgia symptoms was recently published. You can access the paper here and see the results here. Read the summary of our initial study here.

Love and Pain

Our research on the effects of viewing a picture of your romantic partner on your pain perception were published in PLoS ONE and a summary can be found here.

Cymbalta: Functional MRI and Correlates of Efficacy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain

We are beginning a research study to better  understand how duloxetine (Cymbalta) acts in the brain to decrease pain. This  study uses functional neural imaging (MRI) to assess brain activation during a  pain experience. The aim of this study is to elucidate the brain structures  involved in duloxetine’s effects on pain perception. In doing so, we hope to  advance our understanding of central processing of pain, which may lead to  improvements in drug design and a more objective method for identifying  characteristics associated with treatment responders from nonresponders.

This study is now closed to enrollment. We are currently analyzing results to prepare for publication. 

PI: Sean Mackey

T3 for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia

We investigated whether the thyroid hormone T3 is one such treatment that may alleviate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. There is significant overlap between the symptoms ofhypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone production), depression, chronic fatigue, and Fibromyalgia. Patients with low thyroid hormone production who have been treated with T3 for depression have had some improvement in symptoms. In this double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over trial, we hope to learn whether T3 can improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

This study is now closed to enrollment. We are currently analyzing results to prepare for publication. 

PIs: Drs. Ian Carroll, Jarred Younger, and Sean Mackey

Intravenous Lidocaine in Neuropathic Pain

Purpose: Intravenous (IV) lidocaine has been used for years in certain neuropathic pain medications. However, its peripheral and central pain relieving effects have not been characterized. Only a proportion of patients with neuropathic pain respond to conventional anti-neuropathic pain medications–most of which are sodium channel blockers.  The mechanisms responsible for analgesia in response to a sodium channel blocker remain unknown.  In this translational research at Stanford Hospital we are using functional MRI to define supraspinal changes in neuropathic pain patients specifically associated with analgesic responses to systemic lidocaine–a prototypical sodium channel blocker.

We aim to elucidate the inter-individual differences that underlie the frequently  differing responses to medications used for neuropathic pain.  By further  identifying neuroimaging, psyshophysical and neurobahvioral factors that predict responsiveness and unresponsiveness to intravenous  lidocine we hope to gain insight into the mechanism underlying the heterogeneity seen in clinical response to more commonly used drugs for neuropathic pain.

Recruitment has been completed for this studyWe are currently analyzing results to prepare for publication. 

PIs: Drs. Ian Carroll & Sean Mackey

Acupuncture and Pain Processing

Our goal is to determine whether acupuncture changes the way people experience and process pain, and whether it may relieve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. By exploring your response to hot and cold stimuli before and after acupuncture treatment, we hope to improve our understanding of how acupuncture works in healthy individuals, and patients with chronic pain. In turn, we hope that this will lead to better treatments and outcomes for patients suffering from Fibromyalgia.

We completed a small pilot study and used the preliminary results in grant applications. We hope to obtain additional funding to continue this important research. 

PI: Sean Mackey