Chronic pain, C-reactive protein, Vitamin D, psychosocial & lifestyle factors and medical comorbidities - a study using UK Biobank data
Approved Research ID: 69067
Approval date: January 25th 2021
This study aims to determine if blood concentration of an inflammatory marker (C-reactive protein, CRP) and an anti-inflammatory hormone (Vitamin D) are associated with presence of long-term pain. It also aims to assess the influence of demographic, lifestyle, psychosocial factors and medical conditions on the relationships between long-term pain and CRP/Vitamin D.
Long-term (chronic) pain conditions are a major health challenge, with conditions like lower back pain and neck pain being the leading cause of disability in most countries worldwide. Our current approaches to treat chronic pain generally demonstrate modest effects. This may be due to our partial understanding of the biological and psychosocial factors underlying many chronic pain conditions.
Blood concentrations of CRP and Vitamin D appear to be associated with chronic pain. Clinical studies have found raised CRP or reduced Vitamin D in the blood of people with various chronic pain conditions. This could indicate that these blood markers are involved in the development or maintenance of chronic pain, which may have clinical significance for patient management. However, raised CRP and reduced Vitamin D are also associated with various demographic, psychosocial, lifestyle and medical factors. Given that chronic pain conditions are also commonly associated with similar demographic, psychosocial, lifestyle and medical factors, we therefore do not know if raised CRP and reduced Vitamin D are actually related to chronic pain conditions, or if CRP/Vitamin D levels in people with chronic pain simply reflect the influence of other psychosocial or medical factors.
Our proposed project using UK Biobank data will take approximately 18 months. We will examine blood concentrations of CRP and Vitamin D in people with chronic back, neck/shoulder, hip, knee, widespread and multisite pain, as compared with people with no pain. We will statistically adjust for demographic, psychosocial, lifestyle and medical factors, to determine whether raised CRP and reduced Vitamin D are independently associated with chronic pain, or alternatively, if blood CRP and Vitamin D concentration can simply be explained by demographic and psychosocial factors etc.
This study will improve our knowledge of the biological and psychosocial factors underpinning chronic pain conditions. This advanced understanding may guide patient assessment and could inform selection and development of new treatments for chronic pain.