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Photo of Schlaeger, Judith M.

Judith M. Schlaeger, PhD, CNM, LAc, FACNM, FAAN

Associate Professor, Department of Human Development Nursing Science

BIRCWH Internal Advisory Board, Member


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Dr. Schlaeger is a pain scientist. She is focused on the development of translational treatments for chronic pain. Dr. Schlaeger has an extensive background as a practicing licensed acupuncturist where she developed her interest in researching pain; and as a certified nurse midwife where she developed her interest in developing treatments for vulvodynia, a chronic pain syndrome, which has no consistently effective treatments. Dr. Schlaeger is grounded in Western medicine and trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She understands the limitations and strengths of both paradigms. Dr. Schlaeger has already made a major contribution to science by being the first to demonstrate that, in an unblinded study, her standardized acupuncture treatment protocol significantly reduced the pain and dyspareunia of vulvodynia. She has three currently funded NIH acupuncture studies, an R01, an R21, and a UG3 (pending UH3) that are focused on using acupuncture for three chronic pain conditions. The R01 is testing a double-blind phase two randomized controlled trial (RCT) (Double-blind Phase 2 RCT: Effect of Acupuncture on Patient Vulvodynia Outcomes), The R21 is to improve symptoms of stable angina (Feasibility Testing of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture to Improve Symptoms for Stable Angina),and the newly awarded UG3 (Hybrid Effectiveness-Implementation Trial of Guided Relaxation and Acupuncture for Chronic Sickle Cell Disease Pain) is the 1-year planning mechanism for a 4-year (UH3) RCT that compares acupuncture to guided relaxation for sickle cell disease pain. Collaborating with the UIC sickle cell research team, through self-report measures as well as QST testing, we found early evidence that the pain of SCD may have a neuropathic component. In addition, Dr. Schlaeger’s background of understanding the origins of chronic pain (e.g., sickle cell disease and vulvodynia) greatly allows her to contribute to the evaluation of pain in sickle cell disease patients.

Dr. Schlaeger’s integration of TCM and western medicine in women’s health practice and research offers a treatment paradigm that has attracted citations in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the National Vulvodynia Association in its continuing medical education program, the European Guidelines for the Management of Vulvodynia, and the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease for its policies and guidelines for the treatment of vulvodynia. Her dedication to women’s health also includes teaching workshops on the use of acupressure in labor, which provides non-drug options for the reduction of pain, to certified nurse midwives and labor and delivery nurses.