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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2003 October;69(10):775-83

language: English, Italian

Memory distortion during acute and chronic pain recalling

Matera D. 1, Morelli M. 2, La Grua M. 3, Sassu B. 1, Santagostino G. 3, Prioreschi G. 1

1 United Section of Anesthesia-Algology Tuscan Orthopedic Institute General Hospital, USL 10, Florence, Italy
2 Anesthesia, Intensive Care and Antalgic Therapy Unit S. Giovanni di Dio New Hospital General Hospital, USL 10, Florence, Italy
3 Anesthesia, Intensive Care and Antalgic Therapy Unit, Pistoia Hospital, General Hospital ASL 3, Pistoia, Italy


Aim. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of pain memory distorsion using different quantitative pain scales.
Methods. A retrospective study on 2333 patients treated in a Pain Therapy Centre from 1994 to 2000 was carried out. VAS and NRS scores have been evaluated, as referred by patients, at the beginning and at the end of treatment. Moreover pain relief has been evaluated by means of correlation between initial and final pain.
Results. Patients do not remember initial pain correctly, using both VAS and NRS.
Conclusion. Pain memory distorsion is related to pain intensity variation during treatment rather than present pain, and it is inversely related to the initial pain intensity. For this reason, it is not correct to evaluate pain relief at the end of treatment since this procedure can under- or over-estimate the initial pain.

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