Sensory and motor effects of experimental muscle pain in patients with lateral epicondylalgia and controls with delayed onset muscle soreness

Pain. 2005 Mar;114(1-2):118-30. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2004.12.003. Epub 2005 Jan 26.


This study compares the effect of experimental muscle pain on deep tissue sensitivity and force attenuation in the wrist extensors of patients with lateral epicondylalgia (n=20), and healthy controls (n=20) with experimentally induced sensori-motor characteristics simulating lateral epicondylalgia. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in wrist extensors of healthy controls was induced by eccentric exercise in one arm 24h prior to injection (Day 0). Saline-induced pain intensity (visual analogue scale, VAS), distribution, and quality were assessed quantitatively in both arms for both groups. Pressure pain thresholds (PPT) were assessed at three different sites in the wrist extensors. Maximal grip force and wrist extension force were recorded. In response to saline-induced pain in the extensor carpi radialis brevis, regardless of arm, the patient group demonstrated a significantly quicker pain onset (P<0.01), mapped larger pain areas and more referred pain areas, compared to healthy controls (P<0.03). Pain persisted significantly longer in the sore arm of the patient group, compared with all other arms (P<0.02). Patients demonstrated significant bilateral hyperalgesia at extensor carpi radialis brevis during and post saline-induced pain compared to pre-injection and healthy controls (P<0.04). The sore arm in patients and the DOMS arms in healthy subjects showed significantly reduced maximal force (P<0.0001), at all Day 1 times compared with the control arms. In patients, the bilateral increase in deep tissue sensitivity and enlarged referred pain areas during saline-induced pain might suggest involvement of central sensitisation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / toxicity
  • Tennis Elbow / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic