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Prevalence and predictors of chronic pain after labor and delivery

Vermelis, Johanna MFWa; Wassen, Martine MLHb; Fiddelers, Audrey AAa; Nijhuis, Jan Gb; Marcus, Marco AEa

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: June 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 3 - p 295–299
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e32833853e8
Obstetric and gynecological anaesthesia: Edited by Giorgio Capogna

Purpose of review: Labor pain is a complex phenomenon with sensory, emotional, and perceptive components and can be regarded as one of the most serious kinds of pain. Different strategies to approach acute labor pain have been developed. Chronic pain after labor and delivery has not been studied so extensively. In this review recent findings about chronic pain after labor and delivery will be discussed.

Recent findings: Prevalence rates of chronic pain after cesarean section are between 6 and 18% and after vaginal delivery they are between 4 and 10%. Predictors for chronic pain after cesarean section and delivery are previous chronic pain, general anesthesia and higher postdelivery pain. As labor pain is rated as one of the most serious kinds of acute pain one could make a prediction about chronic pain after labor and delivery. We speculate that effective treatment of this pain with epidural analgesia could prevent the development of chronic pain.

Summary: Treatment of acute pain during labor and delivery is necessary to prevent chronic pain. Future studies should focus on the long-term effects of different analgesic regimens on the development of chronic pain after labor and delivery.

aDepartment of Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy, The Netherlands

bDepartment of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Professor Dr M.A.E. Marcus, Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, Postbus 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands Tel: +31 43 3875606; e-mail: m.marcus@mumc.nl

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.