Conditioned pain modulation is affected by occlusion cuff conditioning stimulus intensity, but not duration
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BACKGROUND: Various conditioned pain modulation (CPM) methodologies have been used to investigate diffuse noxious inhibitory control pain mechanisms in healthy and clinical populations. Occlusion cuff parameters have been poorly studied. We aimed to investigate whether occlusion cuff intensity and/or duration influenced CPM magnitudes. We also investigated the role of physical activity levels on CPM magnitude. METHODS: Two studies were performed to investigate the role of intensity and duration of occlusion cuff conditioning stimulus on test stimulus (tibialis anterior pressure pain thresholds). In Study 1, conditioning stimulus intensity of 2/10 or 5/10 (duration <20 s) was evaluated using a paired-samples t-test. In Study 2, duration of 2/10 conditioning stimulus was 3 min. One-way repeated-measures ANOVA was used to investigate the effect of time (0, 1, 2 and 3 min) on CPM magnitude. RESULTS: In Study 1, 27 healthy volunteers (mean ± SD: 24.9 years (±4.5); eight female) demonstrated that an occlusion cuff applied to the upper arm eliciting 5/10 local pain resulted in a significant (mean ± SD: 17% ± 46%) increase in CPM magnitude, when compared to 2/10 intensity (-3% ± 38%, p = 0.026), whereas in Study 2, 25 healthy volunteers (22.5 years (±2.7); 13 female) demonstrated that 3 min of 2/10 CS intensity did not result in a significant change in CPM (p = 0.21). There was no significant relationship between physical activity levels and CPM in either study (p > 0.22). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that an occlusion cuff of 5/10 conditioning stimulus intensity, when compared to 2/10, significantly increased CPM magnitude. Maintaining 2/10 conditioning stimulus for 3 min did not increase CPM magnitude. SIGNIFICANCE: Dysfunctional conditioned pain modulation (CPM) has been associated with poor health outcomes. Various factors can influence CPM outcomes. The role of occlusion cuff conditioning stimulus intensity and duration has not been previously investigated. Intensity (5/10), but not duration of lower intensity (2/10) conditioning stimulus, affects CPM magnitude.