Dr. Sean Mackey gave a fascinating lecture at the Napa Pain Conference entitled, When Acute Pain Becomes Chronic: What Do We Know Now and How Can We Prevent It?

He began with an in-depth overview of the impact of acute pain transitioning to chronic pain — which included some of the mechanisms and factors that can predict the transition, as well as the tools to prevent the development of chronic pain. Dr. Mackey reviewed the epidemiology of low back pain and presented an interesting statistic asserting that there is a 60 to 90 percent life-time prevalence of low back pain and that it is the second most common complaint of chronic pain. He dubbed the transition from acute to chronic low back pain, “Catastrophizing.

The doctor transitioned to a discussion on post-surgical pain. It was interesting to hear that some 34 million Americans undergo surgery each year, and post-operative pain (pain that lasts longer than 3 to 6 months) can be common. On average, ten percent of post-surgical patients will develop chronic pain — a somewhat startling figure. He talked about the factors affecting chronic pain; including the fear of surgery, childhood experiences, and pre-existing conditions (such as depression or anxiety).

Dr. Mackey is a widely recognized physician from Stanford University who has published many items that I have been fortunate to read. This presentation was  a spectacular discussion of the studies and information that have been developed at Stanford University.

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