Generalized deep-tissue hyperalgesia in patients with chronic low-back pain

Eur J Pain. 2007 May;11(4):415-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2006.05.009. Epub 2006 Jul 11.


Some chronic painful conditions including e.g. fibromyalgia, whiplash associated disorders, endometriosis, and irritable bowel syndrome are associated with generalized musculoskeletal hyperalgesia. The aim of the present study was to determine whether generalized deep-tissue hyperalgesia could be demonstrated in a group of patients with chronic low-back pain with intervertebral disc herniation. Twelve patients with MRI confirmed lumbar intervertebral disc herniation and 12 age and sex matched controls were included. Subjects were exposed to quantitative nociceptive stimuli to the infraspinatus and anterior tibialis muscles. Mechanical pressure (thresholds and supra-threshold) and injection of hypertonic saline (pain intensity, duration, distribution) were used. Pain intensity to experimental stimuli was assessed on a visual analogue scale (VAS). Patients demonstrated significantly higher pain intensity (VAS), duration, and larger areas of pain referral following saline injection in both infraspinatus and tibialis anterior. The patients rated significantly higher pain intensity to supra-threshold mechanical pressure stimulation in both muscles. In patients, the pressure pain-threshold was lower in the anterior tibialis muscle compared to controls. In conclusion, generalized deep-tissue hyperalgesia was demonstrated in chronic low-back pain patients with radiating pain and MRI confirmed intervertebral disc herniation, suggesting that this central sensitization should also be addressed in the pain management regimes.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Low Back Pain / complications*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Sodium Chloride


  • Sodium Chloride