High-Impact Chronic Pain Transition in Lumbar Surgery Recipients.



High-impact chronic pain (HICP) is a term that characterizes the presence of a severe and troubling pain-related condition. To date, the prevalence of HICP in lumbar spine surgery recipients and their HICP transitions from before to after surgery are unexplored. The purpose was to define HICP prevalence, transition types, and outcomes in lumbar spine surgery recipients and to identify predictors of HICP outcomes.


In total, 43,536 lumbar surgery recipients were evaluated for HICP transition. Lumbar spine surgery recipients were categorized as having HICP preoperatively and at 3 months after surgery if they exhibited chronic and severe pain and at least one major activity limitation. Four HICP transition groups (Stable Low Pain, Transition from HICP, Transition to HICP, and Stable High Pain) were categorized and evaluated for outcomes. Multivariate multinomial modeling was used to predict HICP transition categorization.


In this sample, 15.1% of individuals exhibited HICP preoperatively; this value declined to 5.1% at 3 months after surgery. Those with HICP at baseline and 3 months had more comorbidities and worse overall outcomes. Biological, psychological, and social factors predicted HICP transition or Stable High Pain; some of the strongest involved social factors of 2 or more to transition to HICP (OR = 1.43; 95% CI = 1.21-1.68), and baseline report of pain/disability (OR = 3.84; 95% CI = 3.20-4.61) and psychological comorbidity (OR = 1.78; 95% CI = 1.48-2.12) to Stable Stable High Pain.


The percentage of individuals with HICP preoperatively (15.1%) was low, which further diminished over a 3-month period (5.1%). Postoperative HICP groups had higher levels of comorbidities and worse baseline outcomes scores. Transition to and maintenance of HICP status was predicted by biological, psychological, and social factors.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Cook, Chad E, Steven Z George, Trevor Lentz, Christine Park, Christopher I Shaffrey, C Rory Goodwin, Khoi D Than, Oren N Gottfried, et al. (2023). High-Impact Chronic Pain Transition in Lumbar Surgery Recipients. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.), 24(3). pp. 258–268. 10.1093/pm/pnac150 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27970.

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Chad E. Cook

Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. Cook is a clinical researcher, physical therapist, and profession advocate with a long-term history of clinical care excellence and service. His passions include refining and improving the patient examination process and validating tools used in day-to-day physical therapist practice. Dr. Cook has authored or co-authored 3 textbooks, has published over 315 peer reviewed manuscripts and lectures internationally on orthopedic examination and treatment.


Steven Zachary George

Laszlo Ormandy Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. George’s primary interest is research involving biopsychosocial models for the prevention and treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders.  His long term goals are to 1) improve accuracy for predicting who is going to develop chronic pain; and 2) identify non-pharmacological treatment options that limit the development of chronic pain conditions.  Dr. George is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association, United States Association of the Study of Pain, and International Association for the Study of Pain. 

Dr. George’s research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Orthopaedic Academy of the American Physical Therapy Association.  Dr. George and his collaborators have authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications in leading medical, orthopaedic surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain research journals.  He currently serves as Deputy Editor for Physical Therapy and is an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Pain. Dr. George has also been involved with clinical practice guideline development for the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and the American Psychological Association. 

Dr. George has been recognized with prestigious research awards from the American Physical Therapy Association, American Pain Society, and International Association for the Study of Pain. For example from the American Physical Therapy Association: he was named the  21st John H.P. Maley Lecturer, recognized as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow in 2017, and selected for the Marian Williams Award for Research in Physical Therapy in 2022.    


Trevor A. Lentz

Assistant Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery

Courtney Rory Goodwin

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology, Orthopedic Surgery.
Director of Spine Oncology,
Associate Residency Program Director
Third Year Study Program Director Neurosciences, Duke University School of Medicine
Director of Spine Metastasis, Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis, Department of Neurosurgery
Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center


Khoi Duc Than

Professor of Neurosurgery

I chose to pursue neurosurgery as a career because of my fascination with the human nervous system. In medical school, I developed a keen interest in the diseases that afflict the brain and spine and gravitated towards the only field where I could help treat these diseases with my own hands. I focus on disorders of the spine where my first goal is to help patients avoid surgery if at all possible. If surgery is needed, I treat patients using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques available in order to minimize pain, blood loss, and hospital stay, while maximizing recovery, neurologic function, and quality of life. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am an avid sports fan and love to eat. I try to stay physically fit by going to the gym and playing ice hockey.

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