Recent reports suggest deficits in conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and enhanced suprathreshold heat pain response (SHPR) potentially play a role in the development of chronic pain. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether central pain processing was altered in 2 musculoskeletal shoulder pain models. The goals of this study were to determine whether central pain processing: 1) differs between healthy subjects and patients with clinical shoulder pain; 2) changes with induction of exercise-induced muscle pain; and 3) changes 3 months after shoulder surgery. Fifty-eight patients with clinical shoulder pain and 56 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects were included in these analyses. The healthy cohort was examined before inducing EIMP, and 48 and 96 hours later. The clinical cohort was examined before shoulder surgery and 3 months later. CPM did not differ between the cohorts, however; SHPR was elevated for patients with shoulder pain compared to healthy controls. Induction of acute shoulder pain with EIMP resulted in increased shoulder pain intensity but did not change CPM or SHPR. Three months following shoulder surgery, clinical pain intensity decreased but CPM was unchanged from preoperative assessment. In contrast, SHPR was decreased and showed values comparable with healthy controls at 3 months. Therefore, the present study suggests that: 1) clinical shoulder pain is associated with measurable changes in central pain processing; 2) exercise-induced shoulder pain did not affect measures of central pain processing; and 3) elevated SHPR was normalized with shoulder surgery. Collectively our findings support neuroplastic changes in pain modulation were associated with decreases in clinical pain intensity only, and could be detected more readily with thermal stimuli.
Perspective: Longitudinal studies involving quantitative sensory testing are rare. In exploring 2 musculoskeletal shoulder pain models (exercise-induced muscle pain and surgical pain), conditioned pain modulation was unchanged from pre- to post-assessment in both models. Suprathreshold heat pain response decreased after shoulder surgery and was comparable to healthy controls, suggesting this measure may be sensitive to decreases in clinical pain intensity.
Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.