Pressure pain sensitivity maps of the neckshoulder and the low back regions in men and women.

Asbjørn Thalund Binderup, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Pascal Madeleine

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Background Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and neck-shoulder regions is a major problem among the working population all over the world. The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is found to be higher among women. Women also have lower pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) than men. Pressure pain topography aims at mapping the spatial distribution of PPT within a muscle in an attempt to track changes in mechanical sensitivity. In order to assess gender differences in the pain topography, it is necessary to map the distribution in both healthy men and women. The aim of this study was to assess PPT maps from the cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions in men and women. Methods Eleven men and eleven women without any known musculoskeletal disorders participated in the study. PPT was measured twice at 36 points over the trapezius muscle of the dominant arm, at 36 points over the trapezius muscle on the contralateral side and at 12 points over the spine between the left and right trapezius. Further, 11 points were measured over the erector spinae muscle on the left side of the spine between the first and the fifth lumbar vertebrae, 11 on the right side and 5 points on the spine itself. The measurements on each trapezius muscle were divided according to anatomical subdivisions. Three-way and two-way ANOVAs were used to analyse the differences in PPTs with the following factors: gender, locations and sub-divisions (only for cervico-thoracic region). Results There were no differences between left and right side in neither the cervico-thoracic nor the lumbar region, but there were (large effect) differences between the subdivisions in the trapezius with the lowest values in the upper part (P < 0.001; partial η2 = 0.19). Women had (small effect) lower PPT in both cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions (P ≤ 0.001; partial η2 = 0.02 for both regions), but gender had no effect on neither location nor subdivisions. Conclusions The pain topography was not found to be different between genders in the cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions. This study can be used as basis for further clinical studies on musculoskeletal disorders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number234
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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