The work in Dr. Bruehl’s lab is focused on the general topic of pain. One current project is evaluating chronic pain-related dysfunction in natural pain inhibitory systems, and how this dysfunction affects normal interactions between the cardiovascular and pain regulatory systems. This work addresses possible contributors to chronic pain, and also seeks to better understand the causes of increased hypertension risk in chronic pain sufferers.
Other current projects are examining the impact of anger expression on both acute and chronic pain, and the role of morphine-like substances produced by the body (endogenous opioids) in these relationships between emotional regulation and pain. A third area of research is the genetics of pain, including genetic variations in opioid receptors that can alter the pain-related effects of both endogenous opioids and opioid pain medications.
Finally, the Bruehl Lab is exploring mechanisms underlying chronic pain that develops following total knee arthroplasty, in particular the condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The goal of the research in Dr. Bruehl’s lab is to better understand the psychophysiological factors contributing to chronic pain and its related health risks, and ultimately, to improve treatment of chronic pain.