A Descriptive Study of Pressure Pain Threshold at 2 Standardized Sites in People With Acute or Subacute Neck Pain
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STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional convenience sample. OBJECTIVES: To describe the distribution of scores for pressure pain threshold (PPT) at 2 standardized testing sites in people with neck pain of less than 90 days' duration: the angle of the upper trapezius and the belly of the tibialis anterior. A secondary objective was to identify important influences on PPT. BACKGROUND: PPT may be a valuable assessment and prognostic indicator for people with neck pain. However, to facilitate interpretation of scores, knowledge of means and variance for the target population, as well as factors that might influence scores, is needed. METHODS: Participants were recruited from community-based physiotherapy clinics and underwent PPT testing using a digital algometer and standardized protocol. Descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviations, quartiles, skewness, and kurtosis) were calculated for the 2 sites. Simple bivariate tests of association were conducted to explore potential moderators. RESULTS: A positively skewed distribution was described for the 2 standardized sites. Significant moderators were sex (male higher than female), age (r = 0.22), and self-reported pain intensity (r = -0.24). Neither litigation status nor most symptomatic/least symptomatic side influenced PPT. CONCLUSIONS: This manuscript presents information regarding the expected scores for PPT testing in people with acute or subacute neck pain. Clinicians can compare the results of individual patients against these population values, and researchers can incorporate the significant confounders of age, sex, and self-reported pain intensity into future research designs.
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