A Healthier Wisconsin

Functional Pain and Autonomic Disorders (FPAD) Program Development

Developing a comprehensive approach to functional pain and autonomic disorders (FPADs)

Full Project Name:Functional Pain and Autonomic Disorders (FPAD) Program DevelopmentPrincipal Investigator:Thomas Chelimsky, MD, NeurologyAward Amount:$1,943,400
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Functional Pain and Autonomic Disorders (FPADs) are common illnesses in which patients experience discomfort and pain in various regions of the body. In fibromyalgia, for example, pain is often found in muscles, whereas migraines usually combine symptoms of intense headaches and nausea. These and other FPADs affect around 500,000 individuals in Wisconsin. Despite this large patient population, understanding of these disorder has progressed slowly.

Through this award, investigators aim to develop a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach for clinical excellence, research, teaching, and community outreach for the treatment of functional pain and autonomic disorders (FPADs).

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Created patient registry database to collect clinical data and evaluate specific outcomes for FPAD patients, successfully recruiting more than 1,000 patients into the autonomic disorders registry, a significant increase in recruitment from the previous year
  • Recruited research coordinator to help with analysis of data. To-date, analysis has demonstrated (1) a very novel finding that mitochondrial energy production is very poor in FPADs; (2) a new emphasis on a small area of the brain called the periaqueductal gray region, where stress and threat are managed and instructions given to the body as to how to handle these impulses. Research data is showing a likelihood that when these instructions go awry, FPAD develops
  • Continued computational work to examine brain networks from multiple perspectives including fMRI, MEG, EEG, and near-infrared regional spectroscopy (NIRS)
  • Prioritized the education of Wisconsin primary care physicians, enrolling approximately 15 practices for training and education of how to better diagnose and treat FPAD. To-date, the team has received excellent evaluations regarding the training program
  • Developed website to share difficult FPAD cases, receiving a large number of participants (about 500 members)
  • Established partnership with several Michigan institutions to develop a national FPAD training program
  • Developed community collaboration with Sojourner Peace House and Milwaukee Rescue Mission to understand the role of chronic pain in opioid abuse
  • Leveraged $3.9 million in additional funding

Project Updates:


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