Thermal detection and pain thresholds but not pressure pain thresholds are correlated with psychological factors in women with chronic whiplash-associated pain

Clin J Pain. 2012 Mar-Apr;28(3):211-21. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318226c3fd.


Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) have been associated with sensory disturbances such as hypersensitivity or hypoesthesia. Different psychological factors seem to be important for prognosis and symptom presentation in WAD. Multivariate correlations between pain thresholds for pressure (PPT), cold and heat (CPT, HPT), detection thresholds for cold and warmth, pain intensity variables, and psychological aspects in women with chronic WAD (n=28) and in healthy pain-free controls (n=29) were investigated. Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST) for thermal thresholds and algometry for PPT at various sites in the body were used. Psychological aspects, including catastrophizing, anxiety, and depression were registered using a questionnaire. WAD showed generalized decreased PPT and CPT, altered HPT and cold detection thresholds in the upper part of the body, and a worse psychological situation. Multivariate correlations were found between QST and PPT variables, habitual pain, and psychological factors in WAD. Different psychological variables were generally stronger predictors of CPT and HPT than pain intensity in WAD. Pain intensity aspects were generally the strongest predictors of PPT in WAD. In contrast, no correlations existed between QST and PPT variables and psychological variables in controls. These results indicate the need to consider that a blend of factors influences the pain thresholds in chronic WAD and emphasize the need for a biopsychosocial model when interpreting QST and PPT variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Catastrophization / etiology
  • Catastrophization / psychology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / etiology*
  • Neck Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / psychology*
  • Pressure
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Temperature*
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*
  • Young Adult