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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Jun 2019 - 7 Jun 2019

Human Studies

2019 Oct




Recovery of physical activity after cesarean delivery and its relationship with pain.


Sharpe EE, Booth JL, Houle TT, Pan PH, Harris LC, Aschenbrenner CA, Eisenach JC
Pain. 2019 Oct; 160(10):2350-2357.
PMID: 31145215.


Pain and physical activity are tightly intertwined. Although their relationship has been explored in chronic pain conditions, we know little about the pattern of recovery in activity and its short- and long-term relationship with pain after surgery. We recruited 103 women undergoing elective cesarean delivery and acquired daily pain assessments and hourly steps in 98 of them for 2 months after surgery. Compliance was good, with 78% of subjects missing less than 7 days of activity. Study personnel required daily checking for compliance and 20 minutes per subject per week in study. Activity increased over the first 2 postoperative months in a log(time) manner. The slope of each modeled individual curve for activity was inversely correlated (r=-0.54; p<0.0001) with worst daily pain. After removing these 2 month trends, pain and activity within an individual day were negatively associated with each point increase in pain being inversely associated with -119 steps (95% CI: -214 to -25; p=0.013). A patient's previous experience of pain was not associated with current activity as well as current activity was not associated with future pain scores. These data, although limited by the study of a single operation in a unique social circumstance with low risk of chronic postsurgical pain, demonstrate feasibility of measuring hourly activity for 2 months after surgery. Recovery from pain and inactivity are tightly correlated, and the negative relationship between within day pain and activity without inter-day carry-over relationships are in stark contrast to findings in chronic pain conditions.