Normal distributions of thermal and vibration sensory thresholds

Muscle Nerve. 1998 Mar;21(3):367-74. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4598(199803)21:3<367::aid-mus11>;2-x.


The distributions of sensory thresholds were estimated in a healthy population while controlling for potential covariates. Using the method of levels and the two-alternative forced choice, thermal and vibration thresholds respectively were measured in the hand and foot of 148 subjects. Age was uniformly distributed between 20 and 86 years. Independent effects of age, gender, height, and skin temperature were estimated using multiple linear regression. Parametric and nonparametric methods were used to estimate the distributions of interest. Significant age-related increases were observed for all vibration thresholds (P < 0.0001), and for thermal thresholds in the foot (P < 0.0002). Percentiles were estimated for thermal thresholds in the hand and age-adjusted continuous distributions were calculated for all other thresholds. Height was positively associated with vibration thresholds in the foot (P < 0.003), and appropriate corrections were made. Our results provide reference values for thermal and vibration sensory thresholds in a healthy population, allowing for the accurate diagnosis of disordered sensory function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Hand
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Normal Distribution
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Skin / innervation
  • Skin Temperature
  • Vibration