Through my work with researchers I hope to be able to help make a real difference to future healthcare, particularly in the field of sciatica and neuropathic pain.  

The FORECAST Study

Proud to be a patient partner on the FORECAST Study.  The following is a summary of this important study, which is ongoing.  

Sciatica is a common condition that originates from injured or irritated nerves in the back. It
usually causes pain, tingling or weakness in the leg. It can have a devastating effect on
everyday life including inability to work or care for family. Sciatica is commonly treated with
medication or physiotherapy (non-invasive treatment); some patients may be offered
injections and/or surgery (invasive treatment). However, a third of patients continue to
develop persistent symptoms lasting one year or longer.

We currently do not understand, who will continue to have persistent pain and who will have
a full recovery. None of the usual clinical factors can predict persistent sciatica (for instance
symptom severity/duration, psychological factors). Given the failure of standard clinical
variables as reliable prognostic factors, a different approach is needed to identify who may
develop persistent sciatica. Our research project is different to previous studies. Whereas
previous studies only included a limited clinical examination, we will perform a precise and
comprehensive set of tests (deep phenotyping) that aim to identify pain mechanisms. The
tests we will perform include detailed sensory testing, specialised nerve-imaging looking at
nerve microstructure, evaluation of inflammatory molecules in the blood and emotional
wellbeing. Based on promising results from pharmacological studies in patients with nerve-
related pain, we hypothesise that deep phenotyping may be able to predict pain persistence.
The results of our study will help us better understand why some people develop persistent
pain and will inform future research that aims to improve the management for those at risk of
developing persisten

How does weakness affect people with sciatica?

Delighted to be involved as a member of the patient advisory group on this research study.  Such an important topic!  

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the leg, but it is actually caused by an irritation of the small nerves in the lower back. One in four people with sciatica also report weakness in the affected leg. Sciatica can have a devastating effect on their quality of life. Sciatica causes many people to be off work and also costs the NHS a lot. Despite using recommended treatments, 1 in 3 people with sciatica still have problems a year later.  

In a recent study 85% of people coming to a hospital appointment for sciatica reported leg weakness, but hospital tests detected weakness in only 34% of them. This means that many people have a problem that their health professional cannot find. If we cannot find the problem, we cannot treat it. This research aims to better understand and measure the leg weakness that people with sciatica report. 

This research aims to answer the following questions:

  • What do we already know about measuring leg weakness in sciatica? Are there gaps in what we understand?
  • How do people with sciatica describe leg weakness and how does it affect their lives?
  • How do health professionals measure leg weakness in people with sciatica?
  • Is there a relationship between the leg weakness that people report and the leg weakness that we can measure?
  • Do new ways of measuring leg weakness tell us new things about the weakness?
  • Can we group people with sciatica by the type of leg weakness that they have?

The RISOLveR Study

Proud to be a co-applicant on this important and very interesting study.   The study is awaiting final funding approval, so I won’t give too much information away just now!  

The CARPE Study

Delighted to be on the advisory panel of this important and very interesting research study. 

The overall aim of this study is to analyse the contributions made by additional role practitioners within and across general practices in England and explore how their work is operationalised within general practices. The specific research objectives (each mapped onto a work package (WP)) are:

(1) Review available evidence on the responsibilities and impacts of additional role practitioners in general practice (WP1).

(2) Provide a descriptive overview of the number and distribution of additional role practitioners in general practice settings in England, and their associated workload, using evidence from routine sources (WP2).

(3) Conduct patient level modelling of the effects of additional role practitioners on clinical workload, health outcomes, quality indicators and patient satisfaction (WP3).

(4) Conduct patient level modelling of the effects of additional role practitioners on health care costs (WP4).

(5) Assess the perspectives of PCN clinical directors, general practice managers, GPs and ARRS-funded workers on recruitment, deployment and integration of ARRS-funded workers into general practice settings.

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Last modified: 08/02/2024

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