Researcher hoping to reduce back pain for people living with arthritis 

Researcher Kyle Vader was awarded one of the Arthritis Society’s PhD Salary Awards to research a new approach to managing low back pain in primary care

Growing up on a dairy farm in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, Kyle Vader grew accustomed to seeing his loved ones “push through the pain” while working. Now as a researcher and physiotherapist, he’s working to make a difference for people living with chronic pain like them. 

“My grandpa has lived with pain all his life, and my uncle has arthritis and has had a number of joints replaced, so I saw first-hand the impact chronic pain can have on someone’s life,” he says. “It really impacts what you’re able to do.” 

His experiences inspired him to study health sciences at McMaster University before completing physiotherapy training at the University of Toronto. He worked for three years as a physiotherapist at an interprofessional chronic pain clinic in Kingston before deciding to pursue his PhD in rehabilitation science at Queen’s University. Earlier this year, he was awarded one of the Arthritis Society’s PhD Salary Awards to research a new approach to managing low back pain in primary care.  

Chronic low back pain is common in people with arthritis, particularly those living with ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and sometimes osteoarthritis. It contributes to disability, decreased quality of life and emotional distress. Kyle is exploring the experiences of people with low back pain who access team-based primary care that includes a physiotherapist as first point of contact for low back pain.  This research will inform future work to improve how primary care is delivered for people with arthritis and the management of chronic low back pain.  

Kyle Vader grandmother“As a research trainee, knowing there are organizations like the Arthritis Society that are supporting the next generation of researchers who will study arthritis and pain – you can’t underestimate the value that has,” he says. “I’m really grateful that I’m able to be supported by the Arthritis Society.”  

It’s through the generosity of the Arthritis Society’s donors that the work of researchers such as Kyle is able to be funded. Kyle’s family has insight into that too. His grandmother has always believed in supporting health charities and has donated to the Arthritis Society over the years.  

“To now have the Arthritis Society fund my work is a real full circle moment,” says Kyle.   

The Arthritis Society is the largest charitable funder of arthritis research in Canada. In 2020-21, it invested $3.6 million in research.