Publication Alert: Chronic Pain and Infection

Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, MD

Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
Associate Medical Director, Infection Control & Epidemiology
Co-Director, Digital Innovation and Social Media Strategy

Dr. Cawcutt is an author on a new review article focusing on the relationship between infection and chronic pain persisting even after resolution of acute illness.

Acute infection can cause chronic pain?

Yes, it can. Pain is a common feature accompanying infection and one of the hallmark features of inflammation. While most infections are cleared by the body, with or without medical intervention, this pain can stick around long after the pathogen is gone.

How does this happen?

There are many different ways this can happen, many of which are explained in detail in this article. In general, the stress of an infection or the medical treatments of infection on the body can cause the immune system to continue to act long past pathogen eradication.

Where can I read more?

For a more technical (and interesting!) rationale for molecular mimicry, central nervous system sensitization, bystander activation, and antimicrobial toxicity in causing chronic post-infectious pain, see the linked article. You will also find additional information on the common bacterial, viral, psychogenic and pharmaceutical causes of post-infectious pain syndromes.

Read the article here!


Cohen, Steven P., et al. “Chronic pain and infection: mechanisms, causes, conditions, treatments, and controversies.” BMJ Medicine 1.1 (2022).

Congrats Dr. Cawcutt on a fantastic review on an important and interesting topic!

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