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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Nov 2020 - 4 Dec 2020



J Pain Res


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


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.