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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 May 2023 - 26 May 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Arthritis, Inflammation/Inflammatory

2023 May

RMD Open




Associations between markers of inflammation and altered pain perception mechanisms in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review.


Dainese P, Mahieu H, De Mits S, Wittoek R, Stautemas J, Calders P


To provide an extensive review on the associations between knee inflammation and altered pain perception mechanisms in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). MEDLINE, Web of Science, EMBASE and Scopus were searched up to 13 December 2022. We included articles reporting associations between knee inflammation (measured by effusion, synovitis, bone marrow lesions (BMLs) and cytokines) and signs of altered pain processing (assessed by quantitative sensory testing and/or questionnaire for neuropathic-like pain) in people with knee OA. Methodological quality was evaluated using the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Study Quality Assessment Tool. Level of evidence and strength of conclusion were determined using the Evidence-Based Guideline Development method. Nine studies were included, comprising of 1889 people with knee OA. Signs of greater effusion/synovitis may be positively associated with lower knee pain pressure threshold (PPT) and neuropathic-like pain. Current evidence could not establish an association between BMLs and pain sensitivity. Evidence on associations between inflammatory cytokines and pain sensitivity or neuropathic-like pain was conflicting. There are indications of a positive association between higher serum C reactive protein (CRP) levels and lower PPT and presence of temporal summation. Methodological quality varied from level C to A2. Signs of effusion/synovitis may be positively associated with neuropathic-like pain and pain sensitivity. There are indications of a possible positive association between serum CRP levels and pain sensitivity. Given the quality and the small amount of included studies, uncertainty remains. Future studies with adequate sample size and follow-up are needed to strengthen the level of evidence.PROSPERO registration number: CRD42022329245.