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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Aug 2023 - 18 Aug 2023


Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Musculoskeletal Pain, Orofacial/Head Pain

2023 Jul 28

J Clin Med




Unravelling Impaired Hypoalgesia at Rest and in Response to Exercise in Patients with Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorders: Effects of a Single Administration of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor versus Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor.


De Kooning M, Coppieters I, Huysmans E, Nijs J, Meeus M, Voogt L, Hendriks E, Ickmans K


(1) Background: Noradrenaline and serotonin have modulatory roles in pain signaling and in exercise-induced hypoalgesia. Patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorders often show impaired exercise-induced hypoalgesia. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the isolated effect of activating serotonergic or noradrenergic descending pathways on hypoalgesia at rest and in response to exercise in patients with chronic WAD by using respectively a single dose of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI). (2) Methods: Twenty-five people with chronic WAD participated in this double-blind randomized controlled crossover experiment. Serotonin and noradrenaline concentrations were modulated by the oral ingestion of a single dose of citalopram (i.e., SSRI) or atomoxetine (i.e., SNRI). Quantitative sensory testing (including pressure pain thresholds and conditioned pain modulation) was measured before and after exercise in combination with no medication (1), atomoxetine (2), or citalopram (3) at three different test days. (3) Results: Random-intercept linear mixed models analysis was used to analyze pain outcomes (i.e., pain at rest and exercise-induced hypoalgesia) before and after exercise over the three conditions in patients with chronic WAD. No differences in pain at rest were found between the three conditions before exercise. The effect of exercise on pain outcome measures was not influenced by medication intake. The occupational status of the participants had a significant influence on the effect of exercise and medication on pain outcomes ( < 0.05). Patients working full-time had some positive effect of atomoxetine on pain facilitation ( < 0.05). Unemployed patients had some negative effect of citalopram on pain tolerance and experienced exercise-induced hypoalgesia ( < 0.05). (4) Conclusions: A single dose of citalopram or atomoxetine did not result in changes in hypoalgesia at rest and in response to exercise. These results do not support the use of SSRI or selective NRI to overcome impaired hypoalgesia at rest or in response to exercise in people with chronic WAD. Effect of exercise and medication on pain in patients with chronic WAD is influenced by the occupational status.