Understanding the factors that cause sciatica to become persistent pain - the FORECAST study

Disease - Chronic pain

Lead applicant - Dr Annina Schmid

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - Special strategic award

Status of grant - Approved

Amount of the original award - £289,027.50

Start date - 01 March 2022

Reference - TBC

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to understand the mechanisms of sciatica and to identify factors which predict the persistence of pain.

Why is this research important?

Sciatica is a common condition affecting the hips, buttocks and legs, caused by injured or irritated nerves in the lower back. Sciatica is often painful and can significantly impact everyday life for someone living with the condition. Approximately one in three people suffer with persistent sciatica pain. It is a complex condition, and the pain may be caused by different mechanisms in different people. Currently, we do not fully understand the underlying mechanisms of sciatica pain and why only some people recover from sciatica. This research will examine people with recently onset sciatic pain by testing their sensory nerves, evaluating the types of pain they experience and understanding their emotional wellbeing. Researchers will follow up with these people over one year to understand how their pain has changed.

How will these findings benefit patients?

The results of this study will help us better understand the complexity of sciatica and who will develop persistent pain. Findings from this research has the potential help future research in developing targeted treatments for people living with sciatica, to reduce suffering and improve quality of life for people living with sciatica pain.