22 August 2019
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A recent study into post-operative pain found orthopaedic trauma and surgery can lead to severe acute persistent and chronic pain.

Severe acute pain that can occur following orthopaedic trauma has multiple implications for hospitals and patients, having a major impact on quality of life.

Royal Melbourne Hospital anaesthetist Professor Kate Leslie AO and author of the article published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia (BJA), found women are more likely to report severe acute pain after surgery than men.

“The reasons for this are probably social and cultural as well as biological. Some studies have also reported that people who are prone to catastrophizing suffer more severe acute pain,” Prof Leslie said.

When it comes to differentiating between different types of pain, Prof Leslie explains that, “acute pain occurs immediately after and within the first few days after surgery, whereas persistent pain may last for weeks or months after surgery.”

In one large cohort study, 15 of the 20 most painful surgeries were orthopaedic or orthopaedic trauma surgeries, many with worst pain scores on the first postoperative day of more than 6 out of 10.[1]

The study showed that patients with persistent pain had often suffered more severe acute pain.

Anaesthetists are trained specifically to manage acute post-operative pain, and are supported by specialist pain medicine physicians when treating patients who have, or are at risk of having, persistent pain.

Acute post-operative pain is treated by combinations of painkilling drugs during and after surgery; including opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol and regional blocks.

However, both acute and persistent pain after surgery may cause distress and prevent patients from getting back to their normal life.

Using the data found in the study as a benchmark, Prof Leslie and her team are working towards better combinations of drugs, and non-drug treatments, to help people with bone fractures who need surgery.

The study was conducted at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which treats more than 2000 orthopaedic trauma patients per year.

You can read more about Prof Leslie’s study here

[1] Gerbershagen HJ, Aduckathil S, van Wijck AJ, Peelen LM, Kalkman CJ, Meissner W. Pain intensity on the first day after surgery: a prospective cohort study comparing 179 surgical procedures. Anesthesiology 2013; 118: 934e44

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