, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 5-13
Date: 16 Apr 2007

Chronic pain after surgery: What can we do to prevent it?

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The development of chronic pain after surgery is not an uncommon event. Despite increased attention devoted to this topic in the recent medical literature, little is known about the underlying mechanisms, natural history, and response to therapy of each syndrome. Central nervous system plasticity that occurs in response to tissue injury may contribute to the development of persistent postsurgical pain. As evidence continues to accumulate concerning the role of central sensitization in the prolongation of postoperative pain, many researchers have focused on methods to prevent central neuroplastic changes from occurring through the use of preemptive or preventative analgesic techniques. Effective preventative analgesic techniques may be useful in reducing not only acute pain but also chronic postsurgical pain and disability. This review examines the efficacy of using a variety of analgesic techniques aimed at preventing or reducing chronic pain after surgery. Specific chronic postsurgical pain syndromes evaluated include complex regional pain syndrome, phantom limb pain, chronic donor site pain, post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, and postmastectomy pain syndrome.