One in four Canadians experience chronic pain, defined as pain that persists beyond 3-months in duration.

Chronic pain has a significant impact on well-being.  Individuals who live with chronic pain often report reduced activity, social withdrawal, irritability, low motivation, and low mood.

Current treatments for chronic pain rarely result in complete resolution of symptoms and often do not produce similar improvements in physical and emotional functioning. Moreover, many treatments for the management of chronic pain, like opioids, are associated with adverse effects. As such, there is a need for analgesics that are safe, non-addictive, have low adverse effect profiles, and offer effective relief for a variety of painful conditions.

Description of Research Initiative:

We are interested in evaluating whether the nasal administration of oxytocin is an effective strategy for improving chronic pain and function. Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that is released during skin-to-skin contact and massage. New evidence from several sources, including our team, suggests that oxytocin is a safe method for decreasing sensitivity to pain with a low risk of adverse effects. Briefly, oxytocin has been shown to: 1) reduce signals conveying pain between the spinal cord and the brain; 2) dampen the body’s response to stress; and 3) bind to neurons in the brain that are associated with natural reduction in pain.

Adults with diverse chronic pain conditions are being recruited from British Columbia, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

What Does Treatment Involve?

Individuals who wish to participate will:

  1. Consent to undergoing the screening process to confirm eligibility.
  2. Commit not to change their current medications for a 10-week period while enrolled in the study.
  3. Complete 3 study conditions administered in a randomized order:
    1. Condition 1: This condition involves the administration of a nasal spray containing a dose of 24 international units of oxytocin twice daily over a period of 2-weeks.
    2. Condition 2: This condition involves the administration of a nasal spray containing a dose of 48 international units of oxytocin twice daily over a period of 2-weeks
    3. Condition 3: This condition involves the administration of a placebo nasal spray twice daily over a period of 2-weeks.
  4. Complete online questionnaires (approximately 25 minutes) at the start and end of each 2-week course of nasal spray.
  5. Respond to 4 questions daily, regarding nasal spray administration, pain, mood and daily function.
  6. Participate in weekly coaching sessions with a personal health coach.
  7. Complete a second online questionnaire

Who can Participate?

Individuals may be eligible to participate if:

  1. Are 18 years of age or older
  2. Commit to not changing your medication during the 10 weeks of this trial
  3. Generally have a moderate level of pain (i.e. a score if 4-8 on a 10-point scale)
  4. For woman, are premenopausal
  5. Experience persistent pain in the back, neck, shoulders or pelvic region, or within the nerves

Please contact our team for additional information.

This Research is Supported By: