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Age and Gender as Factors of Pressure Sensitivity of Pain-Free Persons: Are They Meaningful?

Authors Cámara RJA, Gharbo RK, Egloff N

Received 7 February 2020

Accepted for publication 7 July 2020

Published 21 July 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 1849—1859

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S248664

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert B. Raffa


Rafael JA Cámara,1 Raschid K Gharbo,2 Niklaus Egloff3

1 medscoops ® – Health Sciences, Mainz, Germany; 2Zürcher RehaZentrum, Klinik Davos, Davos-Clavadel, Switzerland; 3Department of Neurology, Division of Psychosomatic Medicine, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland

Correspondence: Raschid K Gharbo Rosenhügelweg 7, Davos-Platz 7270, Switzerland
Tel +41 79 245 67 47
Email r.gharbo@bluewin.ch

Purpose: Prior findings suggest that women and elderly persons are more sensitive to pressure than men and younger persons; however, the magnitudes of these differences are substantially inconsistent. We answered the question whether the higher sensitivity of women and elderly persons is quantitatively meaningful. Specifically, we investigated if it is large enough to hamper the diagnosis, classification and follow-up of pain conditions by clinicians.
Materials and Methods: From each age stratum (18– 20, 21– 30, 31– 40, 41– 50, 51– 60, 61– 70, 71– 80, and > 80 years), 40 pain-free women and 40 pain-free men were recruited. They rated the intensity of pressure of ten Newtons over ten seconds on an analogue zero to ten rating scale. The pressure was applied on their middle fingers and ear lobes with a threshold algometer. Centile curves visualized the sex- and age-dependent fluctuation of pressure sensitivity.
Results: Over the entire age range from 20 to 80 years, the median curves fluctuated within the interval of less than two points. The distance between the median curves of men and women was also less than two points. On the average, the median difference was half a point on the finger (p = 0.249) and the ear lobe (p = 0.083).
Conclusion: Less than two points is below the minimal clinically important difference for a zero to ten analogue pain rating scale; differences smaller than one point are even below the resolution of the scale. Sex differences and age fluctuations of pressure sensitivity are negligible.

Keywords: age, sex, pain, sensitivity

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