Nurses can reduce pain after operations by asking patients about previous pain experiences, experts said at a conference last week.
They said painful experiences can leave a 'footprint' on the brain and put patients at high risk of developing more severe pain after surgery or pain that was more difficult to control.
Eloise Carr, reader in pain management research and education at the Institute of Health and Community Studies at Bournemouth University and former surgical nurse, told NT: 'Nurses should always ask about previous pain experiences. The assessment pre-operatively should allow you to identify some high risk patients.'
Patients at high risk were those who had experienced bad pain in the past from childbirth or a road traffic accident, for example, or who had been very anxious about pain.
Those patients could then be given an epidural, intra-operation nerve block and prescriptions post-operation.
The conference 'Partnerships in pain' was held by the RCN's pain forum at its headquarters in Cavendish Square, London.