Pain Tolerance in Chronic Pain Patients Seems to be More Associated with Physical Activity than with Depression and Anxiety

Authors

  • Olof Skogberg Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  • Linn Karlsson Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  • Björn Börsbo Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  • Lars Arendt-Nielsen Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Department of Health Science and Technology, School of Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Mech-Sense, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  • Thomas Graven-Nielsen Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Department of Health Science and Technology, School of Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  • Björn Gerdle Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden,
  • Emmanuel Bäckryd Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden,
  • Dag Lemming Pain and Rehabilitation Center, and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden; Maritime and Civil Aviation Department, Swedish Transport Agency, Sweden

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.2340/jrm.v54.241

Keywords:

Cuff pressure pain sensitivity, pain assessment, patient-reported outcome measures, physical activity

Abstract

Objective: To explore the associations between habitual self-reported physical activity, pain sensitivity and patient-reported outcomes (including pain intensity) in patients with chronic pain.
Design: Cross-sectional, experimental study.
Subjects: Patients (n = 78), age range 18–65 years, with different chronic pain conditions (> 3 months) were compared with age- and sex-matched healthy controls (n = 98).
Methods: Multivariate correlations between self-reported physical activity, pressure pain sensitivity, and patient-reported outcome measures were assessed.
Results: Lower perceived health status (p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 2.34), higher levels of depression (p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 1.77), and lower pain tolerance threshold (p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 1.66) were the most prominent variables discriminating patients from controls. In patients, bivariate and multivariate analyses showed that higher pressure pain tolerance was associated with male sex, lower pain intensity and fewer painful regions, higher self-efficacy and more self-reported physical activity, but not with lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Conclusion: Pain tolerance thresholds, as well as degree of depression and perceived health status discriminated between patients and controls, and there was an association between pain tolerance thresholds and level of self-reported physical activity in patients. This study highlights the importance of further research into how increased physical activity may improve pain sensitivity in patients with chronic pain.

LAY ABSTRACT
Patients with chronic pain and healthy controls were included in this study of the relationships between self-reported physical activity, measurements of sensitivity to pressure pain, and questionnaire data. Pressure pain sensitivity was one of the most important factors discriminating between patients and controls, and there was a significant correlation between pain tolerance threshold and level of self-reported physical activity in patients (i.e. the lower pain thresholds the less physical activity). These results are relevant, as there are only a few previous studies examining the relationship between physical activity in patients with chronic pain and their sensitivity to pressure pain. More research is needed to explore how daily physical activity may improve chronic pain by, for example, increasing patient’s tolerance to pain.

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Published

2022-04-29

How to Cite

Skogberg, O., Karlsson, L., Börsbo, B., Arendt-Nielsen, L., Graven-Nielsen, T., Gerdle, B., Bäckryd, E., & Lemming, D. (2022). Pain Tolerance in Chronic Pain Patients Seems to be More Associated with Physical Activity than with Depression and Anxiety. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 54, jrm00286. https://doi.org/10.2340/jrm.v54.241

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