Test-retest reliability of thermal temporal summation using an individualized protocol

J Pain. 2013 Jan;14(1):79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2012.10.010.

Abstract

Temporal summation (TS) refers to the increased perception of pain with repetitive noxious stimuli. It is a behavioral correlate of wind-up, the spinal facilitation of recurring C-fiber stimulation. In order to utilize TS in clinical pain research, it is important to characterize TS in a wide range of individuals and to establish its test-retest reliability. Building on a fixed-parameter protocol, we developed an individually adjusted protocol to broadly capture thermally generated TS. We then examined the test-retest reliability of TS within-day (intertrial intervals ranging from 2 to 30 minutes) and between-days (intersession interval of 7 days). We generated TS-like effects in 19 of the 21 participants. Strong correlations were observed across all trials over both days (intraclass correlation [ICC] [A, 10] = .97, 95% confidence level [CL] = .94-.99) and across the initial trials between days (ICC [A, 1] = .83, 95% CL = .58-.93). Repeated measures mixed-effects modeling demonstrated no significant within-day variation and only a small (5 out of 100 points) between-day variation. Finally, a Bland-Altman analysis suggested that TS is reliable across the range of observed scores. Without intervention, thermally-generated TS is generally stable within day and between days.

Perspective: Our study introduces a new strategy to generate thermal TS in a high proportion of individuals. This study confirms the test-retest reliability of thermal TS, supporting its use as a consistent behavioral correlate of central nociceptive facilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult