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Algometry with a clothes peg compared to an electronic pressure algometer: a randomized cross-sectional study in pain patients

Author(s): Egloff Niklaus | Klingler Nicole | von Känel Roland | Cámara Rafael | Curatolo Michele | Wegmann Barbara | Marti Elizabeth | Ferrari Marie-Louise

Journal: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
ISSN 1471-2474

Volume: 12;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 174;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Hypersensitivity of the central nervous system is widely present in pain patients and recognized as one of the determinants of chronic pain and disability. Electronic pressure algometry is often used to explore aspects of central hypersensitivity. We hypothesized that a simple pain provocation test with a clothes peg provides information on pain sensitivity that compares meaningfully to that obtained by a well-established electronic pressure algometer. "Clinically meaningful" was defined as a medium (r = 0.3-0.5) or high (r > 0.5) correlation coefficient according to Cohen's conventions. Methods We tested 157 in-patients with different pain types. A calibrated clothes peg was applied for 10 seconds and patients rated the pain intensity on a 0 to 10 numerical rating scale. Pressure pain detection threshold (PPdt) and pressure pain tolerance threshold (PPtt) were measured with a standard electronic algometer. Both methods were performed on both middle fingers and ear lobes. In a subgroup of 47 patients repeatability (test-retest reliability) was calculated. Results Clothes peg values correlated with PPdt values for finger testing with r = -0.54 and for earlobe testing with r = -0.55 (all p-values < 0.001). Clothes peg values also correlated with PPtt values for finger testing with r = -0.55 (p < 0.001). Test-retest reliability (repeatability) showed equally stable results for clothes peg algometry and the electronic algometer (all r-values > 0.89, all p-values < 0.001). Conclusions Information on pain sensitivity provided by a calibrated clothes peg and an established algometer correlate at a clinically meaningful level.
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