Back Pain Study

Welcome to the Stanford Back Pain Study


The Stanford Back Pain Study is a randomized controlled clinical study led by Dr. Larry Chu that is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The goal of the study is to learn more about how pain medications can be used to treat chronic low back pain.  Ultimately, we would like to use the information gained from this study to help us develop more effective treatments for those who suffer from chronic pain.

The Stanford Center for Back Pain is currently enrolling participants in a study of evidence-based, non-drug treatments for chronic low back pain including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and Acupuncture. Please visit to learn more and see if you're eligible.

Completed Research Studies

  1. A Study of Genetic Variation Influencing Pain and Response to Opioid Medications in Patients With Chronic Pain
  2. Study on the Effect of a Beta Blocker on Increased Sensitivity to Pain in Humans Caused by Opioids
  3. Structural gray matter changes associated with prescription opioid analgesic use: a placebo-controlled trial

Current Studies

  1. 5HT3 Antagonists to Treat Opioid Withdrawal and to Prevent the Progression of Physical Dependence [Enrollment is Closed]
  2. To learn whether or not acute or chronic opioid exposure leads to changes in how inflammation occurs in the body, and if these changes affect the development of pain. [Enrollment is Closed]
  3. To examine how opioid withdrawal, with and without ondansetron treatment, affects brain activity in humans. [Enrollment is Closed]

Future Studies

  1. To study the use of a mHealth application for pain management
  2. To validate the use of digital health tools in chronic back pain patients’ quality of life


  1. Lin JC, Chu LF*, Stringer EA, Baker KS, Sayyid ZN, Sun J, Campbell KA, Younger JW. One month of oral morphine decreases gray matter volume in the right amygdala of individuals with low back pain: confirmation of previously reported Magnetic Resonance Imaging results. Pain Medicine, 2015 Dec 26; 0: 1-8.
  2. Chu LF, Sun J, Clemenson A, Rico T,Cornell E, Obasi H, Yu J, Encisco E, Carroll I, Clark DJ. Ondansetron does not reduce opioid withdrawal in patients on chronic opioid therapy. Submitted to J. Addiction Medicine. 2016.
  3. Chu LF, Utengen A, Kadry B, Kucharski S, Campos H, Crockett J, Dawson N, Clauson K. Everyone Included: moving beyond patients included. Provisional acceptance, submission in revision. The British Medical Journal, 2016.
  4. Chandrasoma J, Chu LF. Teaching the 21st Century Learner: Innovative Strategies and Practical Implementation. Provisional acceptance, submission in revision. In International Anesthesia Clinics, 2016.
  5. Chandrasoma J, Harrison TK, Vokach-Brodsky L, Chu LF*. Peripheral nerve blockade for hand laceration. Provisional acceptance, submission in revision. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015.
  6. Chu LF, Lin JC, Younger J. Acute opioid withdrawal is associated with increased neural activity in reward-processing centers in healthy men: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2015 Aug 1; 153: 314-22.
  7. Wu L, Cirimele J, Leach K, Card S, Chu LF**, Harrison T, Klemmer SR, Supporting crisis response with dynamic procedure aids. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Designing interactive systems, ACM, 2014; 315-324.
  8. Cirimele J, Wu L, Leach K, Card S, Harrison T, Chu LF**, Klemmer SR. RapidRead: step-at-a-glance crisis checklists. IEEE Pervasive Health, 2014; 25-32.
  9. Williams J, Li N, Kim J, Whitehill J, Maldonado S, Pechenizkiv M, Chu LF**, Heffernan N. The MOOClet framework: improving online education through experimentation and personalization of modules Social Science Research Network. 2015.
  10. Wu L, Cirimele J, Bassen J, Leach K, Card S, Chu LF, Harrison K, Klemmer S. Head-mounted and multi-surface displays support emergency medical teams. Proceedings of Computer supported cooperative work companion. 2013; 279-282.
  11. Chu LF, Ngai LK, Young CA, Pearl RG, Macario A, Harrison TK. Preparing Interns for Anesthesiology Residency Training: Development and Assessment of the Successful Transition to Anesthesia Residency Training (START) E-Learning Curriculum. J Grad Med Educ. 2013 Mar;5(1):125-9.
  12. Lighthall G, Harrison TK, Chu LF*. Videos in clinical medicine: Laryngeal mask airway in medical emergencies. N Engl J Med. 2013 Nov 14; 369(20): e26.
  13. Chu LF, Erlendson MJ, Sun JS, Clemenson AM, Martin P, Eng RL. Information technology and its role in anaesthesia training and continuing medical education. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2012; 26 (1): 33-53.
  14. Chu LF, Cun T, Ngai LK, Kim JE, Zamora AK, Young CA, Angst MS, Clark DJ. Modulation of remifentanil-induced postinfusion hyperalgesia by the b-blocker propranolol in humans. Pain. 2012; 153 (5): 974-81.
  15. Chu LF, D’Arcy N, Brady C, Zamora AK, Young CA, Kim JE, Clemenson AM, Angst MS, Clark JD. Analgesic tolerance without demonstrable opioid-induced hyperalgesia: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of sustained-release morphine for treatment of chronic nonradicular low-back pain. Pain. 2012; 153(8): 1583-1592.
  16. Kadry B, Chu LF*, Gammas D, Macario A. Analysis of 4999 online physician ratings indicates that most patients give physicians a favorable rating. J Med Internet Research. 2011; 13(4): e95, DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1960.
  17. Clavijo CF, Hoffman KL, Thomas JJ, Carvalho B, Chu LF**, Drover DR, Hammer GB, Christians U, Galinkin JL. A sensitive assay for the quantification of morphine and its active metabolites in human plasma and dried blood spots using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem.2011; 400 (3): 715-28.
  18. Chu LF, Young C, Zamora A, Lowe D, Hoang D, Pearl RG, Macario A. Self-reported information needs of anesthesia residency applicants and analysis of current website resources at 131 U.S. training programs. Anesth Analg. 2011; 112(2): 430-9.
  19. Younger JW, Chu LF*, D’Arcy N, Trott K, Mackey S. Prescription opioid analgesics rapidly change the human brain. Pain 2011; 152(8): 1803-1810.
  20. Chu LF, Zamora A, Young C, Dairmont J, Angst M. The endogenous opioid system is not involved in modulation of opioid-induced hyperalgesia. J Pain. 2011; 12 (1): 108-115.
  21. Chu LF, Zamora A, Young C, Macario A. Role of social networking tools in the academic environment. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2010 Summer; 48(3): 61-82.
  22. Chu LF, Cun T, Ngai L, Zamora A, Young C, and Macario A. Course management and lecture capture systems in anesthesia education. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2010 Summer;48(3):27-51.
  23. Chu LF, Young C, Zamora A, Kurup V, Macario A. Anesthesia 2.0: Internet-based information resources and Web 2.0 applications in anesthesia education. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2010 Apr;23(2):218-227.
  24. Jolley M, Stinstra J, Tate J, Piper S, MacLeod R, Chu LF**, Wang P, Triedman J. FEM Modeling of Total Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator Leads in an Adult Torso. Heart Rhythm. 2010; 7 (5): 692-8.
  25. Chu LF, Clark DJ. Ondansetron: an effective treatment for the withdrawal symptoms of opioids? Therapy 2009; 6 (5): 637-640.
  26. Chu LF, Liang DY, Li X, Sahbaie P, D’Arcy N, Liao G, Peltz G, David Clark J. From mouse to man: the 5-HT3 receptor modulates physical dependence on opioid narcotics. Pharmacogenetics Genomics. 2009; 19 (3): 193-205.
  27. Mariano ER, Chu LF*, Peinado CR, Mazzei WJ. Comparison of anesthesia-controlled time and turnover time for ambulatory upper extremity surgery performed under regional versus general anesthesia. Journal of Clinical Anesthesia. 2009; 21(4): 253-257.
  28. Mariano ER, Watson D, Loland VJ, Chu LF**, Cheng GS, Mehta SH, Maldonado RC, Ilfeld BM. Bilateral infraorbital nerve blocks decrease postoperative pain but do not reduce time to discharge following outpatient nasal surgery. Can J. Anaesth. 2009: 56(8): 584-589.
  29. Angst MS, Chu LF*, Tingle MS, Shafer SL, Clark DJ, Drover DR. No evidence for the development of acute tolerance to analgesic, respiratory depressant and sedative opioid effects in men. Pain. 2009; 142(1-2): 17-26.
  30. Younger J, Barelka P, Carroll I, Kaplan K, Chu LF**, Prasad R, Gaeta R, Mackey S. Reduced cold pain tolerance in chronic pain patients following opioid detoxification. Pain Med. 2008; 9(8): 1158-1163.
  31. Mariano ER, Cheng GS, Loland VJ, Chu LF*. Comparison of supplementation rates for perivascular axillary and coracoid infraclavicular blocks in ambulatory upper extremity surgery. Ambulatory Surgery. 2008 July;14(2):95-109.
  32. Chu LF, Angst MS, Clark D. Opioid-induced hyperalgesia in humans: molecular mechanisms and clinical considerations. Clin J Pain. 2008 Jul-Aug;24:6:479-96.
  33. Wang DS, Chu LF*, Olson SE, Miller FJ, Valji K, Wong WH, Rose SC, Austin M, Kuo MD. Comparative evaluation of noninvasive compression adjuncts for hemostasis in percutaneous arterial, venous, and arteriovenous dialysis access procedures. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2008;19:1:72-9.
  34. Carvalho B, Roland LM, Chu LF**, Campitelli VA, Riley ET. Single-dose, extended-release epidural morphine (DepoDur) compared to conventional epidural morphine for post-cesarean pain. Anesth Analg. 2007;105:1:176-83.
  35. Williams GD, Philip BM, Chu LF**, Boltz MG, Kamra K, Terwey H, Hammer GB, Perry SB, Feinstein JA, Ramamoorthy C. Ketamine does not increase pulmonary vascular resistance in children with pulmonary hypertension undergoing sevoflurane anesthesia and spontaneous ventilation. Anesth Analg. 2007;105:6:1578-84.
  36. Soto RG, Chu LF, Goldman JM, Rampil IJ, Ruskin KJ. Communication in critical care environments: mobile telephones improve patient care. Anesth Analg. 2006;102:2:535-41.
  37. Chu LF, Clark DJ, Angst MS. Opioid tolerance and hyperalgesia in chronic pain patients after one month of oral morphine therapy: a preliminary prospective study. J Pain. 2006;7:1:43-8.
  38. Carvalho B, Chu LF, Fuller A, Cohen SE, Riley ET. Valdecoxib for postoperative pain management after cesarean delivery: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Anesth Analg. 2006;103:3: 664-667.
  39. Mariano ER, Chu LF, Ramamoorthy C, Macario A. Scheduling elective pediatric procedures that require anesthesia: the perspective of parents. Anesth Analg. 2006;103:6:1426-31.
  40. Williams GD, Ramamoorthy C, Chu L, Hammer GB, Kamra K, Boltz MG, Pentcheva K, McCarthy JP, Reddy VM. Modified and conventional ultrafiltration during pediatric cardiac surgery: clinical outcomes compared. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2006;132: 6:1291-8.
  41. Mariano ER, Ramamoorthy C, Chu LF, Chen M, Hammer GB. A comparison of three methods for estimating appropriate tracheal tube depth in children. Paediatr Anaesth. 2005;15:10:846-51.
  42. Mariano ER, Chu LF, Albanese CT, Ramamoorthy C. Successful thoracoscopic repair of esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula in a newborn with single ventricle physiology. Anesth Analg. 2005;101:4:1000-2.
  43. Chu LF, Chen Z, Stamey TA. Different molecular forms of uncomplexed prostate specific antigen (PSA) show similar immunoreactivities. J Urol. 1999;161:6:2009-12.
  44. Chu LF, Chan BK. Evolution of web site design: implications for medical education on the Internet. Comput Biol Med. 1998;28:5 459-72.
  45. Chu LF, Lee WC, Yang PC, Chu R, Huang TY, Mao SJ. One-step HPLC purification procedure for porcine brain 90-kDa heat shock protein. Protein Expr Purif. 1997;10:2:180-4.
  46. Carantoni M, Abbasi F, Chu L, Chen YD, Reaven GM, Tsao PS, Varasteh B, Cooke JP. Adherence of mononuclear cells to endothelium in vitro is increased in patients with NIDDM. Diabetes Care. 1997;20:9:1462-5.
  47. Berliner E, Mahtani HK, Karki S, Chu LF, Cronan JE, Gelles J. Microtubule movement by a biotinated kinesin bound to streptavidin-coated surface. J Biol Chem 1994; 269:11:8610-5.


* Senior Author- participated extensively in drafting of the manuscript and/or critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content.

** Participated extensively in statistical analysis and supervision.


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