DCRI Musculoskeletal Research seeks to ignite the next generation of innovative clinical research that will transform musculoskeletal practice; improve the delivery of patient care around the world though interactions among our scholars, practitioners, and trainees; and express powerful ideas through many different platforms.

A New Approach for New Challenges

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system are quite common, with almost every individual seeking medical care at some point during his or her life. Because of their frequency and interference with the ability to perform critical tasks of daily living, musculoskeletal disorders are a major determinant of health of both individuals and populations.

Despite the significant financial costs and health implications of musculoskeletal disease, there is little clinical research identifying population needs and trends and comparing outcomes of different treatment approaches.

DCRI Musculoskeletal Research is a multi-disciplinary research team working towards discoveries to reduce the impact of musculoskeletal pain on health, physical function, and quality of life.

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Our work involves:

  • Predicting and preventing transition from acute to chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • Establishing optimal care pathways for common operative and non-operative musculoskeletal conditions
  • Determining efficacy and effectiveness of non-pharmacological treatments
  • Identifying age-specific mechanisms of chronic pain and physical function decline
  • Understanding and improving the healthcare provider’s role in patient management

Research Highlights

Virtual Rehab Assistants
for Physical Therapy

The VERITAS clinical trial showed that a virtual rehabilitation assistant designed to provide physical therapy following total knee replacement surgery enabled a substantial reduction in costs and rehospitalizations while being as effective as traditional physical therapy.

Hidden Health Problems after Elective Hip Surgery

Up to two years following elective, arthroscopic hip surgery, a substantial proportion of patients reported troubling new health issues ranging from sleep problems, to arthritis to cardiovascular disease. A study by DCRI researchers suggested that doctors and patients should be prepared for long-term management of potential symptoms.

Reducing Opioid Dependence for Pain Patients

DCRI researchers and their colleagues found that early physical therapy for pain patients reduced subsequent opioid use by approximately 10 percent. Their findings could have important implications for how physicians treat patients with various types of pain.

Finding Better Ways to Treat Pain

Steven George, PT, PhD, DCRI’s director of Musculoskeletal Research, says there is a desperate need for nonpharmacological and noninvasive pain relief solutions, specifically when it comes to musculoskeletal pain. This need is highlighted daily in mainstream news as the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic continues unabated. This epidemic has garnered attention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends nonpharmacological options as a frontline alternative for chronic pain.

Watch the following video as George discusses factors that should be taken into account while treating musculoskeletal pain and the importance of creating individualized, effective treatment plans that will result in less opioid use.

Recent Awards and Recognition

Duke Orthopaedics has been ranked third in Blue Ridge Institute's 2017 NIH Funding Report, coming in at $4,838,440 in NIH funding for 2017. Among the faculty members who contributed to this ranking were Steven Z. George, PT, PhD, and Adam Goode, DPT.

Trevor Lentz, PT, PhD, has been named co-chief DCRI fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year. Lentz received a bachelor’s of exercise science and a master’s of physical therapy from the University of Florida (UF). He was a physical therapist at the UF Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute before leaving in 2014 to pursue a research career. Last year, he received his PhD in rehabilitation science and Master of Public Health in management and policy from UF. 

Trevor Lentz

Musculoskeletal Leadership at the DCRI

Stephen George cropped photoSteven George, PhD, PT
Director of Musculoskeletal Research, DCRI
Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Steven George is professor and director of Musculoskeletal Research in the DCRI and vice chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. As a clinical researcher, George focuses on musculoskeletal health as part of the DCRI's effort to participate in the advancement of exciting new interdisciplinary research at Duke. He also leads the collaborative relationship between the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the DCRI. George’s research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense and he has been recognized with prestigious research awards from the American Pain Society, American Physical Therapy Association, and International Association for the Study of Pain.

Before coming to Duke, George worked at the University of Florida, where he was a tenured professor; and director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in the Department of Physical Therapy. He also served as director of the Brooks-PHHP Research Collaboration in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. He earned a PhD in rehabilitation science and an MS in orthopedic physical therapy from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and his PT from West Virginia University.  George also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pain research and rehabilitation outcomes at the University of Florida.