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

Opioid Strategy Leads to
Better Outcomes

With opioid overdoses and abuse a subject of growing concern for public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control issued a series of guidelines in 2016 intended to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid drug therapy.

Biomarkers and Chronic
Low Back Pain

The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a four-year, $2.4 million grant to a team of Duke researchers led by the DCRI’s Adam Goode, DPT, PhD. The grant will fund an analysis of biomarkers that could be used to better understand the nature of chronic low back pain.

Non-Drug Pain Management

The DCRI’s Steven George, PhD, will lead a research project focusing on non-drug approaches for pain management addressing the needs of service members and veterans. The goal of this planning and demonstration project is to improve access to recommended nondrug therapies for low-back pain in the Department of VA Health Care System

Steven George, PhD, PT
Director of Musculoskeletal Research, DCRI

"Specific to musculoskeletal pain, there is desperate need for nonpharmacological and noninvasive pain relief solutions. 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."

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Recent Awards and Recognition

Steven Z. George, PT, PhD, has been selected as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association. As a new Fellow, Dr. George is recognized for attaining the highest level of professional excellence and impact in terms of advancing the profession that Catherine Worthingham, PT, PhD, FAPTA, exemplified.

Adam Goode, DPT, PhD; Janet Bettger, ScD; Daniel Dore, PT, DPT, MHA, and their colleagues submitted a proposal, “Integration of Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy Care in the Patient Centered Medical Home,” which has been selected for $134,000 of federal funding from the Duke Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), which is the academic home of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) funding program.

Recent Presentations

Steven George, PhD, was a featured guest on The Healing Pain Podcast in October 2017, speaking about the importance of embracing the psychosocial factors of pain.

During the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Chad Cook, PhD, gave the Pauline Cerasoli lecture to a full house. The Cerasoli lecturer, a prestigious honor, is selected annually by the APTA education committee and Dr. Cook was selected as the 20th Annual Lecturer.

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.