Although previous research suggests that preamputation pain is a risk factor for pain after amputation, little is known about the association between acute postsurgical pain and chronic amputation-related pain. The current prospective study examined the associations of preamputation pain and acute postamputation pain with chronic amputation-related pain. The sample consisted of patients with lower limb amputation (N = 57) who provided both preamputation and postamputation data during a 2-year study period. Preamputation pain intensity and duration were assessed before amputation; acute phantom limb pain (PLP) and residual limb pain (RLP) intensity were assessed on postsurgical days 4 and 5. Acute PLP intensity was the only significant independent predictor of chronic PLP intensity at 6 and 12 months after amputation, whereas preamputation pain intensity was the only significant predictor of chronic PLP intensity at 24 months. Similarly, acute RLP was found to be the best overall predictor of chronic RLP. Other variables (age, gender, level and etiology of amputation, amount of postsurgical pain medication, and duration of preamputation pain) were not associated with chronic pain. These results suggest that higher levels of pain either before or soon after amputation might help to identify individuals at greatest risk for chronic pain problems and most in need of early, intensive pain interventions.
Perspective: This study suggests that both preamputation pain and acute pain soon after amputation might be associated with bothersome chronic pain. The results support further research on acute pain mechanisms and the effectiveness of early interventions aimed at preventing or managing amputation-related pain.