Complementary Approaches for Military Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Randomized Trial.

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Introduction: Active duty (AD) women suffer with chronic pelvic pain (CPP) while providers tackle diagnoses and treatments to keep them functional without contributing to the opioid epidemic. The purpose of this randomized trial was to determine the effectiveness of noninvasive, self-explanatory mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or self-paced healthy lifestyle (HL) interventions on CPP in AD women. Methods: A 6-week, interventional prospective study with AD women aged 21-55 years at Mountain Home (MTHM), Idaho, was conducted. Women were randomly assigned to MBSR (N = 21) or HL (N = 20) interventions. The primary outcome was pain perception. The secondary outcomes were depression and circulating cytokine levels. Results: Women in the MBSR group exhibited reduced pain interference (p < 0.01) and depression (p < 0.05) alongside decreased interleukin (IL)-4 (p < 0.05), IL-6 (p < 0.05), eotaxin (p < 0.05), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (p = 0.06), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) (p < 0.01) and increased vascular endothelial growth factor (p < 0.05). Women in the HL group did not have changes in pain; however, they did exhibit reduced depression (p < 0.05) alongside decreased granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (p < 0.05) and increased tumor necrosis factor alpha (p < 0.05), stromal cell-derived factor-1 (p < 0.01), and IL-1ra (p < 0.01). Conclusions: AD women receiving MBSR or HL had reduced depression scores and altered circulating cytokine levels; however, only those receiving MBSR had reduced pain perception. Findings support MBSR as an effective and viable behavioral treatment for AD women suffering from CPP and provide premise for larger randomized controlled studies. Clinical Trial Registration: MOCHI-An RCT of mindfulness as a treatment for CPP in AD Women NCT04104542 (September 26, 2019).





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Crisp, Carol D, Robert Baldi, Matthew Fuller, Eduardo Abreu and Andrea G Nackley (2022). Complementary Approaches for Military Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Randomized Trial. Journal of integrative and complementary medicine. 10.1089/jicm.2022.0616 Retrieved from

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Andrea Gail Nackley

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology

Pain is a multidimensional sensory and emotional experience that is important for our survival, but once pain becomes chronic it is no longer beneficial and, instead, becomes a disorder in and of itself. Chronic pain remains one of our nation’s most significant healthcare problems due to a limited understanding of the underlying genetic and environmental factors. There are three main objectives of our lab’s research in this area: 

  1. To determine the factors that put some people, but not others, at risk for maladaptive chronic pain conditions. To achieve this objective, we study genetic, biological, and environmental factors associated with the initial onset of pain as well as its severity and duration. In addition, we are beginning to study factors associated with patient-centered outcomes, which may have the power to predict optimal management strategies for different individuals.
  2. To elucidate the mechanism(s) whereby genetic, biological, and environmental factors drive chronic pain. To achieve this objective, we integrate molecular genetics, animal models, and clinical epidemiologic measures in order to reveal pathogenic processes that are unique to as well as common across a particular condition or individual(s). This line of inquiry will provide novel targets for the development of individualized therapeutics for the management of chronic pain.
  3. To improve pharmacologic management of pain. To achieve this objective, we conduct pre-clinical studies to test the efficacy of new compounds and to optimize the efficacy of existing compounds in patient-relevant animal models.

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