Assessment of musculoskeletal pain sensitivity and temporal summation by cuff pressure algometry: a reliability study

Pain. 2015 Nov;156(11):2193-2202. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000294.


Chronic musculoskeletal pain is linked with sensitization, and standardized methods for assessment are needed. This study investigated (1) the test-retest reliability of computer-controlled cuff-pressure algometry (pain thresholds and temporal pain summation) on the arm and leg and (2) conditioned pain modulation (CPM) assessed by cuff algometry. The influences of age and gender were evaluated. On 2 different days, cuff pain threshold (cPPT), cuff pain tolerance (cPTT), and temporal summation of pain (TSP) by visual analog scale scores to 10 repeated cuff stimulations at cPTT intensity, as well as pressure pain threshold with handheld pressure algometry, were assessed in 136 healthy subjects. In one session, cuff pain sensitivity was also assessed before and after cold pressor-induced CPM. Good-to-excellent intraclass correlations (0.60-0.90) were demonstrated for manual and cuff algometry, and no systematic bias between sessions was found for cPPT, cPTT, and TSP on the leg and for cPTT and TSP on the arm. Cuff pressure pain threshold and cPTT were higher in men compared with women (P < 0.05). Middle-aged subjects had higher pressure pain threshold, but lower cPPT and cPTT, compared with younger subjects (P < 0.05). Temporal summation of pain was increased in women compared with men (P < 0.05). Cuff algometry was sensitive to CPM demonstrated as increased cPPT and cPTT and reduced TSP (P < 0.05). Reliability and sensitivity of computer-controlled cuff algometry for pain assessment is comparable with manual pressure algometry and constitutes a user-independent method for assessment of pain. Difference in age-related pain sensitivity between manual and cuff algometry should be further investigated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / diagnosis
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / diagnosis*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Pressure*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Young Adult