U of M Team to Participate in Multicenter, NIH Funded Study

Since 1999, it’s estimated that nearly 450,000 people have died from an opioid overdose—a number that continues to rise with the number of prescriptions. Opioids are pain medications that are often prescribed by doctors. Yet, misuse of these substances has increased dramatically in the past 20 years.

It’s with this in mind, that “A Sequenced-Strategy for Improving Outcomes in People with Knee Osteoarthritis Pain,” or SKOAP, Consortium was founded. A multicenter study funded by the National Institutes of Health and run by John Hopkins University, the nationwide SKOAP Consortium will determine if there are available, non-invasive methods to decrease discomfort in patients with knee pain.

As a center chosen to participate in the study, a University of Minnesota Medical School team, led by Associate Dean of Strategy and Innovation Clarence Shannon, IV, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, will collect data on 2,000 local primary care and orthopedic patients who are ineligible for surgery.

Dr. Shannon said, “They’re the ones that this will be the most helpful to. If we can find ways to manage their pain long-term without the use of opioids, that would be a very good thing.”

The first phase of their study will begin in September, where they will collect data on various non-invasive treatments and medications. The second phase will test various interventional procedures, such as steroid injections, for pain management. It’s during this phase that the researchers will also challenge the patient’s genicular nerve frequency. Dr. Shannon said, “This is kind of a unique thing we’re doing. So, what we’ll do is keep the nerves that go to the knee, put them out of commission for a short time and compare that to the other interventions.”

Dr. Shannon’s specialty has always been the study of pain management. He continues to look for innovative ways to decrease pain, without increasing opioid use.

“It’s an epidemic. And that’s why we’re doing this,” he said. “We need to decrease prescription opioids given in the United States.”