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Open Access Validity of Electrical Stimulus Magnitude Matching in Chronic Pain

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Objective: To examine the validity of the PainMatcher in chronic pain.

Design: Comparison of parallel pain estimates from visual analogue scales with electrical stimulus magnitude matching.

Patients: Thirty-one patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Methods: Twice a day ongoing pain was rated on a standard 100-mm visual analogue scale, and thereafter magnitude matching was performed using a PainMatcher. The sensory threshold to electrical stimulation was tested twice on separate occasions.

Results: In 438 observations visual analogue scale ranged from 3 to 95 (median 41) mm, and PainMatcher magnitudes from 2.67 to 27.67 (median 6.67; mean 7.78) steps. There was little correlation between visual analogue scale and magnitude data (r = 0.29; p < 0.0001). The mean sensory threshold was 3.67 steps, indicating that the PainMatcher, on average, stimulated at 2.1 times the perception threshold at matching point.

Conclusion: Electrical magnitude matching of chronic pain intensity elicited limited activation of nerve fibres at 2.0–2.2 times sensory threshold, indicating that the induced pain was evoked by coarse nociceptive A fibres. While the visual analogue scale estimates covered the whole range of the instrument, the PainMatcher readings utilized only a small part of the instrument range and, importantly, had little or no relation to the visual analogue scale estimates. The validity of the PainMatcher procedure is doubtful.

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Keywords: ELECTRIC STIMULATION; PAIN MEASUREMENT; REPRODUCIBILITY OF RESULTS; SENSORY THRESHOLD; VISUAL ANALOGUE SCALE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is the international peer-reviewed journal published in English, with at least 10 issues published per year.

    Original articles, reviews, case reports, short communications, special reports and letters to the editor are published, as also are editorials and book reviews. The journal strives to provide its readers with a variety of topics including: functional assessment and intervention studies, clinical studies in various patient groups, methodology in physical and rehabilitation medicine, epidemiological studies on disabling conditions and reports on vocational and sociomedical aspects of rehabilitation.

    The journal is read by a wide group of healthcare professionals including specialists in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology, general medicine, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

    Contributions from all parts of the world and from different professions in rehabilitation are welcome.

    ISI Impact Factor 2009: 1.882.

    Owned by Foundation of Rehabilitation Information.

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