UF Health receives NIH grant for clinical trial on knee osteoarthritis pain

UF Health will become a study site of an NIH-funded research initiative aimed at comparing non-opioid treatments for managing knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. 

The multicenter randomized controlled trial, called “A sequenced strategy for improving outcomes in persons with knee osteoarthritis pain (SKOAP),” will seek to optimize evidence-based approaches to managing pain associated with knee osteoarthritis and identify phenotypes that predispose patients to an improved treatment response to a given intervention.  

Juan Mora, MD

Juan Mora, MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Medical Director of the Ayers Pain Medicine Surgical Center, is the Principal Investigator for the UF Health site. The trial will enroll more than 2,000 patients ages 18 to 90 years old across all study sites. Enrollment is projected to start by September.

The trial will proceed in two phases: Phase one will include the noninvasive interventions and phase two will include the interventional pain procedures, including intra-articular injections and genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation. Intra-articular injections involve injecting a medication directly into a joint. Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation is a type of nerve block that targets the nerve branches surrounding the knee joint using technology in which heat is generated from high-frequency electrical current. It aims to relieve pain and restore function by preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. 

Knee osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints deteriorates or becomes damaged, leading to degenerative changes inside the joint and the surrounding tissues. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. The condition, which is estimated to affect more than 32.5 million U.S. adults, can also cause reduced range of motion with a negative impact on the functionality of patients.

The grant is part of the NIH’s multiyear Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative, which seeks to improve pain treatments, curb opioid use disorder and overdose rates, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.