Authors: Daphne Bricker, Joel Bialosky, Abigail Wilson
Faculty Mentor: Joel Bialosky
College: College of Public Health and Health Professions
Massage is effective in treating some individuals with neck pain; however, the mechanisms through which massage relieves pain are unknown, prohibiting a mechanistic based treatment stratification approach. Pain inducing massage (PIM) is known to be more effective than pain free massage (PFM) in decreasing pain sensitivity, suggesting a mechanism similar to conditioned pain modulation (CPM). This study aims to determine if PIM results in similar changes in pain sensitivity as a CPM paradigm using a coldpressor task in participants with neck pain. Twenty-one participants (81% female, median age 23 years (IQR=21.00-26.00) were randomly assigned to four, one-minute exposures to a coldpressor task, PIM, or PFM. Pressure pain thresholds (PPT) were assessed on the contralateral foot before and immediately after each exposure period. The coldpressor task and PIM resulted in significantly greater pain than PFM. A significant lessening of PPT was observed only within the PFM group (suggesting increased pain sensitivity). Pain associated with PPT was similar across each time point within each group suggesting a similar pain experience despite the differing levels of pressure resulting in the pain ratings. In conclusion, both PIM and a coldpressor task elicited a protective effect on pain sensitivity suggesting similar underlying mechanisms.