Transitioning from acute to chronic pain: A simulation study of trajectories of low back pain

Jianzhong Su, Ying Du, Kelley Bevers, Pengcheng Xiao, John Licciardone, Marco Brotto, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Identifying how pain transitions from acute to chronic is critical in designing effective prevention and management techniques for patients' well-being, physically, psychosocially, and financially. There is an increasingly pressing need for a quantitative and predictive method to evaluate how low back pain trajectories are classified and, subsequently, how we can more effectively intervene during these progression stages. Methods: In order to better understand pain mechanisms, we investigated, using computational modeling, how best to describe pain trajectories by developing a platform by which we studied the transition of acute chronic pain. Results: The present study uses a computational neuroscience-based method to conduct such trajectory research, motivated by the use of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity-history over a time-period as a way to mimic pain trajectories. A numerical simulation study is presented as a "proof of concept" for this modeling approach. Conclusions: This model and its simulation results have highlighted the feasibility and the potential of developing such a broader model for patient evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number306
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2019


  • Chronic and acute pains
  • Computer simulation
  • HPA axis
  • Low back pain
  • Ordinary differential equation system
  • Pain trajectories


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