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Research Studies

The Massachusetts General Hospital Nerve Unit (Department of Neurology) is a clinical and research laboratory dedicated to the clinical diagnosis and research on chronic pain. These are the on-going studies in our lab. If you are interested, please contact us for additional information.


Studies (Currently Enrolling)
Gulf War Illness

The Nerve Injury Unit, Dept of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in conjunction with the Department of Defense, is studying Gulf War Illness in Veterans who served from 1990 to 1991, in the Gulf War Region. We are studying those with Gulf War Illness as well as veterans and civilians who don’t have Gulf War Illness. For more information, see Gulf War Illness Study.

Skin-Biopsy Study of Small-Diameter Nerve Fibers

We are trying to understand the connection between chronic pain and nerve damage, to improve diagnosis and treatment. A general term for this type of nerve damage is Peripheral Neuropathy. For more information, see: Skin-biopsy Study Brochure


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder, which is due to aging and wear and tear on a joint. We are recruiting patients with non-nerve pain to evaluate the results of tests for nerve pain. For more information, see: Osteoarthritis Study Brochure


Studies (Enrollment Closed)
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Some patients are diagnosed with neuropathic pain, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Causalgia and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Nerve injury is a frequent cause of CRPS. We are trying to understand how and when chronic pain develops after nerve injury. Enrollment is closed.


Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long lasting, body-wide pain and tenderness in their joints and muscles. We are trying to study Fibromyalgia patients to learn about the causes of the disease, to improve diagnosis and treatment. Enrollment is closed.

Postherpetic Neuralgia (TMS)

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a common syndrome caused when a shingles (zoster) rash triggers pain and itch that lasts after the rash heals. The pain and itch from PHN can be debilitating, and reduce a person’s quality of life. We are studying patients with postherpetic neuralgia to learn about a potential new treatment for pain and itch after shingles called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Enrollment is closed.

Tarlov Cysts and Pelvic Pain

Tarlov cysts, also known as perineurial cysts are small fluid filled sacs, located in the spinal canal of the lower (lumbar-sacral) region of the spinal cord. Not everyone who has Tarlov cysts has symptoms. However, some common symptoms may include: back pain, pain in the perineum and/or buttocks, sciatica, urinary incontinence, difficulty walking, severe lower abdominal pain, painful urination, pelvic pain, and painful intercourse. We are interested in whether pelvic pain symptoms in some women may be due to the presence of these cysts. Enrollment is closed.

Chronic Pain in Fabry Disease

Fabry Disease is a genetically inherited lysosomal disorder caused by an enzyme deficiency. Mild or severe chronic pain is common in Fabry patients. The major cause is thought to be damage and degeneration of pain-sensing nerve fibers. We are trying to learn about the connection between pain and nerve injury in Fabry disease to improve diagnosis and treatment. Enrollment is closed.