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      A Conceptual Model of Biopsychosocial Mechanisms of Transition from Acute to Chronic Postsurgical Pain in Children and Adolescents

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          Acute and chronic pain are highly prevalent and impactful consequences of surgery across the lifespan, yet a comprehensive conceptual model encompassing biopsychosocial factors underlying acute to chronic pain transition is lacking, particularly in youth. Building on prior chronic postsurgical pain models, we propose a new conceptual model of biopsychosocial mechanisms of transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain. This review aims to summarize existing research examining key factors underlying acute to chronic postsurgical pain transition in order to guide prevention and intervention efforts aimed at addressing this health issue in children. As pain transitions from acute nociceptive pain to chronic pain, changes in the peripheral and central nervous system contribute to the chronification of pain after surgery. These changes include alterations in sensory pain processing and psychosocial processes (psychological, behavioral, and social components), which promote the development of chronic pain. Patient-related premorbid factors (eg, demographic factors, genetic profile, and medical factors such as premorbid pain) may further modulate these changes. Factors related to acute injury and recovery (eg, surgical and treatment factors), as well as biological response to surgery (eg, epigenetic, inflammatory, and endocrine factors), may also influence this process. Overall, longitudinal studies examining temporal pathways of biopsychosocial processes including both risk and resiliency factors will be essential to identify the mechanisms involved in the transition from acute to chronic pain. Research is also needed to unravel connections between the acute pain experience, opioid exposure, and sensory pain processing during acute to chronic pain transition. Furthermore, future studies should include larger and more diverse samples to more fully explore risk factors in a broader range of pediatric surgeries. The use of conceptual models to guide intervention approaches targeting mechanisms of transition from acute to chronic pain will significantly advance this field and improve outcomes for children and adolescents undergoing surgery.

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          Most cited references 78

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          Genetic basis for individual variations in pain perception and the development of a chronic pain condition.

          Pain sensitivity varies substantially among humans. A significant part of the human population develops chronic pain conditions that are characterized by heightened pain sensitivity. We identified three genetic variants (haplotypes) of the gene encoding catecholamine-O-methyltransferase (COMT) that we designated as low pain sensitivity (LPS), average pain sensitivity (APS) and high pain sensitivity (HPS). We show that these haplotypes encompass 96% of the human population, and five combinations of these haplotypes are strongly associated (P=0.0004) with variation in the sensitivity to experimental pain. The presence of even a single LPS haplotype diminishes, by as much as 2.3 times, the risk of developing myogenous temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a common musculoskeletal pain condition. The LPS haplotype produces much higher levels of COMT enzymatic activity when compared with the APS or HPS haplotypes. Inhibition of COMT in the rat results in a profound increase in pain sensitivity. Thus, COMT activity substantially influences pain sensitivity, and the three major haplotypes determine COMT activity in humans that inversely correlates with pain sensitivity and the risk of developing TMD.
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            COMT val158met genotype affects mu-opioid neurotransmitter responses to a pain stressor.

            Responses to pain and other stressors are regulated by interactions between multiple brain areas and neurochemical systems. We examined the influence of a common functional genetic polymorphism affecting the metabolism of catecholamines on the modulation of responses to sustained pain in humans. Individuals homozygous for the met158 allele of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism (val158met) showed diminished regional mu-opioid system responses to pain compared with heterozygotes. These effects were accompanied by higher sensory and affective ratings of pain and a more negative internal affective state. Opposite effects were observed in val158 homozygotes. The COMT val158met polymorphism thus influences the human experience of pain and may underlie interindividual differences in the adaptation and responses to pain and other stressful stimuli.
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              Prediction of chronic post-operative pain: pre-operative DNIC testing identifies patients at risk.

              Surgical and medical procedures, mainly those associated with nerve injuries, may lead to chronic persistent pain. Currently, one cannot predict which patients undergoing such procedures are 'at risk' to develop chronic pain. We hypothesized that the endogenous analgesia system is key to determining the pattern of handling noxious events, and therefore testing diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) will predict susceptibility to develop chronic post-thoracotomy pain (CPTP). Pre-operative psychophysical tests, including DNIC assessment (pain reduction during exposure to another noxious stimulus at remote body area), were conducted in 62 patients, who were followed 29.0+/-16.9 weeks after thoracotomy. Logistic regression revealed that pre-operatively assessed DNIC efficiency and acute post-operative pain intensity were two independent predictors for CPTP. Efficient DNIC predicted lower risk of CPTP, with OR 0.52 (0.33-0.77 95% CI, p=0.0024), i.e., a 10-point numerical pain scale (NPS) reduction halves the chance to develop chronic pain. Higher acute pain intensity indicated OR of 1.80 (1.28-2.77, p=0.0024) predicting nearly a double chance to develop chronic pain for each 10-point increase. The other psychophysical measures, pain thresholds and supra-threshold pain magnitudes, did not predict CPTP. For prediction of acute post-operative pain intensity, DNIC efficiency was not found significant. Effectiveness of the endogenous analgesia system obtained at a pain-free state, therefore, seems to reflect the individual's ability to tackle noxious events, identifying patients 'at risk' to develop post-intervention chronic pain. Applying this diagnostic approach before procedures that might generate pain may allow individually tailored pain prevention and management, which may substantially reduce suffering.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                24 November 2020
                : 13
                : 3071-3080
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, University of Washington , Seattle, WA, USA
                [2 ]Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Seattle Children’s Hospital , Seattle, WA, USA
                [3 ]Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Hospital , Seattle, WA, USA
                [4 ]Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington , Seattle, WA, USA
                [5 ]Weill Cornell Medicine , New York, NY, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jennifer A Rabbitts Seattle Children’s Hospital , 4800 Sand Point Way NE MB.11.500.3, Seattle, WA98105, USATel +1 206-987-2704Fax +1 206-987-3935 Email jennifer.rabbitts@seattlechildrens.org
                © 2020 Rabbitts et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 1, References: 78, Pages: 10
                Funded by: National Institute of Arthritis;
                This work was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases under Award No. R01AR073780 (Principal Investigator: Rabbitts, J.A.).


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