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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

CiteScore 2017: 0.84

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.401
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.452

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Volume 13, Issue 1


Increased deep pain sensitivity in persistent musculoskeletal pain but not in other musculoskeletal pain states

Helena Eva Margareta Gunnarsson
  • Corresponding author
  • Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of psychology, Växjö, Sweden
  • Hälsoringen, Neron HSU AB, Osby, Sweden
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Birgitta Grahn
  • Lund University, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Orthopedics, Lund, Sweden
  • Epidemiology and Register Centre South, Region Skåne, Lund, Sweden
  • Department of Research and Development, Region Kronoberg, Växjö, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jens Agerström
  • Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of psychology, Växjö, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-10-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2016.05.032



Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) in a non-painful body area are known to be affected in some chronic pain states. The aim of this study is to investigate PPTs in a pain-free body part in relation to pain persistence and intensity in patients with musculoskeletal pain.


Patients with musculoskeletal pain were divided into three different pain groups: acute pain (pain duration < 3 months, n = 38), regularly recurrent pain (regularly recurrent pain duration > 3 months, n = 56), persistent pain (persistent pain duration >3 months, n = 52) and a healthy control group (n = 51). PPT measures were conducted over the tibialis anterior muscle on the right leg in all groups.


The persistent pain group showed significantly lower PPTs over the tibialis anterior muscle compared to controls. No significant differences were found between the acute and regularly recurrent pain groups compared to healthy controls. Significant correlations, albeit small, were found between pain intensity and PPTs.


Increased deep pain sensitivity was found in patients with persistent musculoskeletal pain, but not in regularly recurrent pain or in acute pain. Yet, a limitation of the study is that it did not have sufficient power to detect small levels of increased deep pain sensitivity among the latter groups when compared to healthy controls.


Knowledge about increased general hypersensitivity in persistent musculoskeletal pain could be important in clinical treatment.

Keywords: Persistent pain; Deep pain sensitivity; Pressure pain threshold; Central sensitization


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About the article

Linnaeus University, 35195 Växjö, Sweden. Tel.: +46772288000; fax:+46047083217.

Received: 2016-02-17

Revised: 2016-04-15

Accepted: 2016-05-07

Published Online: 2016-10-01

Published in Print: 2016-10-01

Conflict of interestConflicts of interests: There are no conflicts of interest.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 1–5, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2016.05.032.

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