The effect of environment on post surgical overall well-being and pain sensitivity in an animal model
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With chronic post surgical pain affecting up to one third of patients undergoing surgeries and the price of treatment being astoundingly high there has been a transition in research to investigate and identify risk factors. Through identification of risk factors new preventative measures can be taken to ensure better surgical outcomes. The role that psychosocial factors can play in the development of chronic post surgical pain has long been recognized yet its mechanisms are still unknown. We aim to investigate how environment can play a direct role in pain perception and sensitivity. We used a Chronic Mild Stress (CMS) paradigm to induce depression in 10 adult male mice, we used 10 control mice who were left in standard opti cages, and 10 enriched mice who were placed in large enrichment cages. CMS mice were exposed to a series of stressors and all mice underwent spared nerve injury surgery. During spared nerve injury the common peroneal and tibial branches of the sciatic nerve were severed while the sural branch was left intact. Overall well-being and pain threshold of mice were tested via Von Frey, Hot Plate, Heat Place Preference, Dynamic Weight Bearing, Hole Board, and Social Interaction. It was found that CMS mice experienced thermal hyperalgesia yet normal thermal threshold sensation. CMS mice also spent less time interacting with novel mice in social interaction, and less amount of time exploring the center of the hole board arena than control or enriched mice. While Von Frey results did not change over the course of the experiment, dynamic weight bearing results indicated spared nerve injury surgery was successful and produced chronic pain. Results indicate that environment plays a role in thermal pain perception and CMS affected overall well being of mice as CMS mice exhibited more timid and anxious behavior.