Pain and wound healing in surgical patients

Lynanne McGuire, Kathi Heffner, Ronald Glaser, Bradley Needleman, William Malarkey, Stephanie Dickinson, Stanley Lemeshow, Charles Cook, Peter Muscarella, William Scott Melvin, Edwin Christopher Ellison, Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Background: Human and animal laboratory studies have shown that stress delays healing of standardized punch biopsy wounds. Purpose: This 5-week prospective study of 17 women who underwent elective gastric bypass surgery addressed the association between postsurgical pain intensity and subsequent healing of a standard 2.0-mm punch biopsy wound. Methods: Participants were assessed 1 week before surgery, within 3 hr before surgery, 1 to 3 days postsurgery, and at weekly intervals for 4 weeks following surgery. Results: Patient ratings of greater acute postsurgical pain, averaged over Days 1 and 2 postsurgery, and greater persistent postsurgical pain, averaged over 4 weekly postsurgery pain ratings, were significantly associated with subsequent delayed healing of the punch biopsy wound. Presence of depressive symptoms on the day of surgery, pre-existing persistent pain, and medical complications following initial discharge from the hospital were not related to wound healing. Depressive symptoms on the day of surgery and pre-existing persistent pain did predict persistent postsurgical pain intensity. Conclusions: These findings extend the previous laboratory models of wound healing to a surgical population, providing the first evidence that pain plays an important role in postsurgery wound healing, a key variable in postsurgical recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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