Psychosocial influences on exercise-induced hypoalgesia

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Exercise-induced hypoalgesia has potential for pain modulation in healthy and pain patients.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Psychosocial factors contribute to pain across different populations and across a variety of pain states. Mood and pain catastrophizing have been related to endogenous pain modulation through studies using conditioned pain modulation (CPM) (1). CPM describes the temporary physiological adaptation following a noxious stimulus (the conditioning stimulus) of a pain response to another noxious stimulus (the testing stimulus). People with chronic pain conditions have shown less modulation of the pain response under test conditions.

There is preliminary evidence that psychosocial variables (anxiety, depression, pain catastrophizing) respond to different noxious stimuli such as pressure pain (anxiety), heat pain (depression), and electrical pain (catastrophizing) (1). There is not much evidence regarding psychosocial factors in relation to exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH).

EIH is relevant as it occurs when a noxious stimulus is felt as less painful after moderate to high intensity exercise. There is evidence that the inhibitory effect of exercise is longer and more generalizable (2). Exercise can also be applied outside of a laboratory experiment which makes it an interesting clinical target for pain modulation. This study aimed to explore the effects of different psychosocial variables on pain sensitivity and EIH (3).

Psychosocial factors contribute to pain across different populations and across a variety of pain states.
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The goals of individuals in pain are woven around many psychosocial determinants.

METHODS

As part of a larger study on endogenous opioids and endocannabinoids on EIH, the authors collected data on pain sensitivity before and after isometric exercise. The participants of this larger study were told they were in a study looking at

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