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Papers: 21 Sep 2019 - 27 Sep 2019

Human Studies

2020 Apr 28

Scand J Pain



Local hyperalgesia, normal endogenous modulation with pain report beyond its origin: a pilot study prompting further exploration into plantar fasciopathy.


Riel H, Plinsinga ML, Mellor R, Boudreau SA, Vuvan V, Vicenzino B
Scand J Pain. 2020 Apr 28; 20(2):375-385.
PMID: 31541604.


Background and aims Persistent tendinopathies were previously considered solely as peripheral conditions affecting the local tendinous tissue until quantitative sensory testing identified involvement of altered pain processing. In similar fashion, pain in patients with persistent plantar fasciopathy may also involve more than local tissue. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate potential differences in conditioned pain modulation and pressure and thermal pain thresholds, between individuals with PF and healthy pain-free controls, as a precursor to a larger-scale study. Methods We assessed 16 individuals with plantar fasciopathy and 11 pain-free controls. Plantar fasciopathy diagnosis was: palpation pain of the medial calcaneal tubercle or the proximal plantar fascia, duration ≥3 months, pain intensity ≥2/10, and ultrasound-measured plantar fascia thickness ≥4 mm. Quantitative sensory tests were performed locally at the plantar heel and remotely on the ipsilateral elbow. Assessments included pain thresholds for pressure, heat and cold, and conditioned pain modulation measured as change in local resting pressure pain threshold with cold water hand immersion. Participants rated pain intensity at pain threshold. Additionally, the area and distribution of plantar fasciopathy pain was drawn on a digital body chart of the lower limbs. Descriptive analyses were performed and between-group differences/effects expressed as standardised mean differences (d). Results There was no conditioned pain modulation difference between participants with plantar fasciopathy and controls (d = 0.1). Largest effects were on local pressure pain threshold and reported pain intensity on pressure pain threshold (d > 1.8) followed by pain intensity for heat and cold pain thresholds (d = 0.3-1.5). According to the digital body chart, pain area extended beyond the plantar heel. Conclusions The unlikelihood of a difference in conditioned pain modulation yet a pain area extending beyond the plantar heel provide a basis for exploring altered pain processing in a larger-scale study. Implications This was the first study to investigate the presence of altered pain processing in individuals with plantar fasciopathy using a conditioned pain modulation paradigm and thermal pain thresholds. We found no indication of an altered pain processing based on these measures, however, patients rated pain higher on thresholds compared to controls which may be important to clinical practice and warrants further exploration in the future.