Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Pain. 2010 Mar;14(3):266-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2009.05.011. Epub 2009 Jun 21.

Differential physiological effects during tonic painful hand immersion tests using hot and ice water.

Author information

Laboratory of Psychophysiology, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.


The cold pressor test (CPT) is an empirically validated test commonly used in research on stress, pain and cardiovascular reactivity. Surprisingly, the equivalent test with water heated to noxious temperatures (hot water immersion test, HIT) has not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of the present study was to characterize the physiological effects and psychophysics of both tests and to analyze whether the autonomic responses are mainly induced by baroreflexes or a consequence of the pain experience itself. The study consisted of a single session including one CPT (4+/-0.2 degrees C) and one HIT (47+/-0.5 degrees C; cut-off point 5 min) trial performed on 30 healthy drug free volunteers aged 19-57 (median 24) yrs. The sequence of both trials was alternated and participants were randomly assigned to sequence order and parallelized with respect to gender. Physiological parameters (cardiovascular, respiratory and electrodermal activity) and subjective pain intensity were continuously monitored. In addition, pain detection and tolerance thresholds as well as pain unpleasantness were assessed. Both tests were comparable with regard to the time course and intensity of subjective pain. However, a significantly higher increase of blood pressure could be observed during the CPT when compared to the HIT. The HIT appears less confounded with thermoregulatory baroreflex activity and therefore seems to be a more appropriate model for tonic pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center