Chu Research Lab Human Pain and Opioid Physiology Research

Information About Pain Research Techniques

Conducting research studies about pain can be quite challenging for many reasons.  One particular problem is accurately and precisely measuring the phenomenon you are interest in studying.  The Chu laboratory has implemented several different tests to allow us to obtain fairly precise and scientific measures of a patient's pain. All of our pain tests are designed to be safe, and comply to the ethical and institutional research guidelines established by the Stanford University Institutional Review Board research committee.

Heat Pain Testing

In some of our research studies, you may be asked to participate in thermal sensory testing, involving heat or cold.  These tests involve the use of a Peltier thermocoupling device that can very precisely heat or cool your skin.  The device is programmed to a heat and/or cooling limit to prevent thermal injury from occurring.  The Peltier device slowly warms or cools and you are asked to push a button "when you first begin to feel pain" or "just when you can't take it anymore".

Cold Pressor Testing

The cold pressor test is another mode of testing used in our research.  This test uses a tank filled with ice water.  If you are asked to participate in this test, you will place your hand on the bottom of the tank and take your hand out "just when you can't take it anymore."

Intra/Transdermal Electrical Pain

Intradermal Electrical Pain

In this test, two very small electrical wires are implanted in your skin or on top of your skin using sterile techniques. Then, a small electrical current is passed through the wires to produce a small area of irritation in your skin. We measure the size of this area by touching your skin lightly with a von Frey hair made out of a plastic material similar to nylon fishing line.

Sunburn Pain

Sunburn pain

We are interested in various aspects of inflammatory pain, and we use a special device that creates tiny sunburns as our study model. This machine emits high intensity light for brief periods of time to create tiny sunburn spots about this size of a dime on your skin.



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