Hand-held pressure algometry usually assesses pressure-pain detection thresholds and provides little information on pressure-pain stimulus-response function. In this article, a cuff pressure algometry for advanced pressure-pain function evaluation is proposed. The experimental set-up consisted of a pneumatic tourniquet cuff, a computer-controlled air compressor and an electronic visual analogue scale (VAS) for constant pain intensity rating. Twelve healthy volunteers were included in the study. In the first part, hand-held algometry and cuff algometry were performed over the gastrocnemius muscle with constant compression rate. In the second part, the cuff algometry was performed with different compression rates to evaluate the influence of the compression rate on pain thresholds and other psychophysical data. Pressure-pain detection threshold (PDT), pain tolerance threshold (PTT), pain intensity, PDT-PTT time and other psychophysical variables were evaluated.Pressure-pain detection thresholds recorded over the gastrocnemius muscle with a hand-held and with a cuff algometer, were 482 +/- 19 kPa and 26 +/- 1.6 kPa, respectively. Pressure and pain intensities were correlated during cuff algometry. During increasing cuff compression, the subjective pain tolerance limit on VAS was 5.6 +/- 0.95 cm. There was a direct correlation between the number of compressions, the compression rate and pain thresholds. The cuff algometry technique is appropriate for pressure-pain stimulus-response studies. Cuff algometry allowed quantification of psychophysical response to the change of stimulus configuration.
Copyright 2001 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain.