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Physiother Theory Pract. 2019 Feb;35(2):139-147. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1441930. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

Thermal and mechanical pain sensitization in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

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a Ribeirão Preto Medical School , University of São Paulo , Ribeirão Preto-SP , Brazil.



The aim was to assess sensitization using quantitative sensory testing in mechanical and thermal modes in individuals with and without osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Pain thresholds were correlated with functionality, symptoms of depression and intensity of pain.


Thirty control volunteers and 30 patients with OA of the knee were assessed. Punctate pain thresholds using Von Frey filaments and thermal pain thresholds using a Thermal Sensory Analyzer were evaluated in the periarticular region of the knee and forearm. Using a digital pressure algometer, pressure pain thresholds were assessed in the periarticular region of the knee and on the root exit zone on the lumbar and sacral spine.


Punctate, pressure, and thermal pain thresholds differed significantly between participants with and without OA (p < 0.05). Values in those with OA were consistent with pain sensitization. Pressure pain thresholds also showed moderate and negative correlations with data on functionality, symptoms of depression and intensity of pain (-0.36 < r > -0.56), contributing up to 30% of their variability.


Allodynia and hyperalgesia were demonstrated in the OA group, suggesting central sensitization in patients with mild to moderate severity of joint damage. Correlation between mechanical hypersensitivity and psychosocial factors seems to be small, despite of its significance.


Knee osteoarthritis; central sensitization; pain threshold; peripheral sensitization

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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