Help to Cope with Chronic Surgical Pain; Voice Your Concerns to Your GP as Soon as Possible

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), April 16, 2018 | Go to article overview

Help to Cope with Chronic Surgical Pain; Voice Your Concerns to Your GP as Soon as Possible


Byline: Tracey Johnstone

BECOMING better informed on why post-surgery chronic pain occurs could assist you in ensuring this notoriously difficult to treat condition can be managed more effectively.

There are three types of post-surgical pain - acute, chronic and intermediate.

Not unsurprisingly after the trauma of a surgeon cutting into you, it's highly likely your body will react with acute pain in the first three, five or seven days after that surgery.

Pain expert and director of pain medicine at the Royal Perth Hospital, Professor Stephan Schug said this is primarily caused by nerve injury. "That's why bigger and more interventional and traumatic surgery like total knee joint replacement causes so much more chronic pain than hip joint replacement," Dr Schug said.

The ongoing or chronic pain, which affects between five and 10 per cent of anyone who has been through surgery, often remains difficult for seniors to understand and deal with, both physically and mentally.

Pre-operative risks

The risk of chronic pain can depend on several factors -

The type of surgery such as total knee replacement. "Up to 15 per cent of people who have had this operation can have severe chronic post-surgical pain," DrSchug said. "It's much less for a total hip replacement; possibly under 5 per cent. The reason is most likely there is much less tissue and nerve trauma when you replace a hip then when you replace a knee."

Repeat surgery.

Once you have an injury or ongoing moderate to severe pain, acute pain after surgery can become chronic.

Females have a higher risk of developing chronic pain. "We don't know why exactly," Dr Schug said. "There is a lot of thinking that this has to do with the hormones."

Younger age patients due to the plasticity of the nervous system. "For a 30-year-old, the same surgery causes more pain than for a 70-year-old," DrSchug said.

If you have long-term chronic pain before an operation, the risk of that pain remaining increases. "Most people who have a knee or hip replacement, already have chronic pain which has made them have the operation," DrSchug said. …

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