Pain catastrophizing predicts pain intensity during a neurodynamic test for the median nerve in healthy participants

Man Ther. 2010 Aug;15(4):370-5. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.02.008. Epub 2010 Mar 31.


Psychological factors within the Fear-Avoidance Model of Musculoskeletal Pain (FAM) predict clinical and experimental pain in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Clinicians routinely examine individuals with provocative testing procedures that evoke symptoms. The purpose of this study was to investigate which FAM factors were associated with evoked pain intensity, non-painful symptom intensity, and range of motion during an upper-limb neurodynamic test. Healthy participants (n = 62) completed psychological questionnaires for pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, kinesiophobia, and anxiety prior to neurodynamic testing. Pain intensity, non-painful sensation intensity, and elbow range of motion (ROM) were collected during testing and served as dependent variables in separate simultaneous regression models. All the psychological predictors in the model accounted for 18% of the variance in evoked pain intensity (p = .02), with only pain catastrophizing (beta = .442, p < .01) contributing uniquely to the model. Psychological predictors did not explain significant amounts of variance for the non-painful sensation intensity and ROM models. These findings suggest that pain catastrophizing contributed specifically to evoked pain intensity ratings during neurodynamic testing for healthy subjects. Although these findings cannot be directly translated to clinical practice, the influence of pain catastrophizing on evoked pain responses should be considered during neurodynamic testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Elbow Joint / physiology*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Psychometrics
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult