Shoulder Pain In An Elderly Person

Neuroscience Faculty Anne Murphy Receives Grant to Study Pain

Neuroscience Institute’s own Dr. Anne Murphy received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to investigate pain management therapies for people aged 65 or older.

The late Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick, and actress Bette Davis agree: old age demands some toughness; it “isn’t for sissies”. Among other reasons is this: “Pain in the elderly is severely under-treated; between 47-80% of community dwelling and 16–27% of institutionalized individuals do not receive any treatment for their pain.” Despite her youth and vigor, Dr. Anne Murphy knows a lot about pain; she has been studying pain, and approaches to managing it, for much of her career.

The problem is of growing concern. No one is getting any younger. In 2013, people aged 65 and older represented 14.1% of the US population. These numbers are expected to rise dramatically, with people aged 65 years or older accounting for 20- 30% of the total population by 2030. ”Persons aged 65 or older represent the fastest growing segment of the United States population and an estimated 45-80 percent of people aged 65 or older suffer from chronic pain” said Dr. Murphy. “Pain in the elderly is severely under-treated mostly due to the lack of knowledge regarding the impact of age on the central neural circuitry underlying opiate numbing.” Dr. Murphy is working hard to do something about that. She has just received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to investigate pain management therapies for people aged 65 or older.

The goal of her research is to understand the impact of advanced age on opiate modulation of persistent pain. Three specific aims are first, to determine the influence of advanced age on mu opioid receptor expression and receptor pharmacodynamics. Second, to determine their effects on G protein receptor coupling and regulation. The third aim will use molecular and pharmacological techniques to boost central MOR signaling, thereby reducing morphine dosing requirements. These studies will provide novel and critical data on the impact of age on opiate effectiveness, and will stimulate evidence-based therapies for the management of pain in the elderly.