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Molecular pain

Short-term pre- and post-operative stress prolongs incision-induced pain hypersensitivity without changing basal pain perception.


PMID 26626404

Abstract

Chronic stress has been reported to increase basal pain sensitivity and/or exacerbate existing persistent pain. However, most surgical patients have normal physiological and psychological health status such as normal pain perception before surgery although they do experience short-term stress during pre- and post-operative periods. Whether or not this short-term stress affects persistent postsurgical pain is unclear. In this study, we showed that pre- or post-surgical exposure to immobilization 6xa0h daily for three consecutive days did not change basal responses to mechanical, thermal, or cold stimuli or peak levels of incision-induced hypersensitivity to these stimuli; however, immobilization did prolong the duration of incision-induced hypersensitivity in both male and female rats. These phenomena were also observed in post-surgical exposure to forced swimming 25xa0min daily for 3 consecutive days. Short-term stress induced by immobilization was demonstrated by an elevation in the level of serum corticosterone, an increase in swim immobility, and a decrease in sucrose consumption. Blocking this short-term stress via intrathecal administration of a selective glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU38486, or bilateral adrenalectomy significantly attenuated the prolongation of incision-induced hypersensitivity to mechanical, thermal, and cold stimuli. Our results indicate that short-term stress during the pre- or post-operative period delays postoperative pain recovery although it does not affect basal pain perception. Prevention of short-term stress may facilitate patients' recovery from postoperative pain.