• intouch Magazine

World-First Clinical Trials For Novocastrians Living With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain affects one in five Australians and approximately 180,000 people in the Hunter region.

Chronic pain is complex, often difficult to treat, and can have profound effects on many aspects of a person’s life, including physical function, daily activities, sleep, mental health, and social life.

More and more people are seeing their general practitioner (GP) for chronic pain issues. Over the last ten years, GP visits for chronic pain have increased by 67%. GPs can provide a range of medications and treatments, or they can suggest a referral to see a specialist pain doctor at a dedicated pain clinic such as Hunter Pain Specialists.

Pain specialists can provide an in-depth consultation to best diagnose or determine what is most likely causing the pain issues, and therefore, may advise the most appropriate course of treatment for each of their patients. Because chronic pain is such a complex health issue and therefore often difficult to treat, many patients need to try a whole range of treatment options to resolve their pain, including medications, injections, physical/exercise therapy, simple and advanced procedures, and even surgically implanted medical devices. As well as offering currently available treatments, pain specialists may consider clinical trials as an option for the potential treatment of a patient’s pain issues.

Through clinical trials, Novocastrians can access world-first technology for the potential treatment of their chronic pain, free of charge.

Doctors Marc Russo and Willem Volschenk at Hunter Pain Specialists are actively involved in conducting clinical trials for a range of chronic pain conditions, including back pain, leg pain, sciatica, neuropathic (nerve) pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and more. They also work with local rheumatologists to bring clinical trials for arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions to the Hunter region. The trials include world-first clinical trials for new pharmaceutical treatments and medical devices developed by Australian and international biotech companies, all made available to eligible patients right here in the Hunter region.

The trials are conducted at a local clinical trials site with dedicated clinical trial coordinators and research support staff. All of the clinical trials being conducted have been approved by the Australian authorities and human research ethics committees, ensuring that the safety and care of the patients is of the utmost importance and that any potential risks are minimised. The study doctor and researchers are dedicated to providing the best possible care to their clinical trial participants.

Dr Russo and Dr Volschenk are particularly experienced with the use of various medical devices for the treatment of chronic pain, including “neuromodulation” devices such as spinal cord stimulators and peripheral nerve stimulators, and are both regularly involved in conducting clinical trials for new medical devices and technology.

Currently, Dr Volschenk is the primary investigator on a clinical trial for an international clinical-stage medical device company. This company is developing a neuromodulation platform technology that is designed to provide pain relief across a broad spectrum of chronic pain types where conventional treatment has failed. Patients who have not had success with or have only had minimal pain relief with standard, conventional pain treatments represent an important unmet medical need and may be eligible to trial this new technology today.

To learn more about this study and other currently enrolling clinical trials for chronic pain, visit


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