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Influence of exercise on visceral pain: an explorative study in healthy volunteers

Authors van Weerdenburg LJGM, Brock C, Drewes AM, van Goor H, de Vries M, Wilder-Smith OHG

Received 2 September 2016

Accepted for publication 11 November 2016

Published 28 December 2016 Volume 2017:10 Pages 37—46

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S121315

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Enrica Santarcangelo

Laura JGM van Weerdenburg,1 Christina Brock,2,3 Asbjørn Mohr Drewes,2 Harry van Goor,1 Marjan de Vries,1 Oliver HG Wilder-Smith4

1Department of Surgery, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 2Mech-Sense, Department of Gastroenterology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, 3Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; 4Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Background and objectives:
Contradictory results have been found about the effect of different exercise modalities on pain. The aim of this study was to investigate the early effects of aerobic and isometric exercise on different types of experimental pain, including visceral pain, compared to an active control condition.
Methods: Fifteen healthy subjects (6 women, mean [standard deviation] age 25 [6.5] years) completed 3 interventions consisting of 20 minutes of aerobic cycling, 12 minutes of isometric knee extension and a deep breathing procedure as active control. At baseline and after each intervention, psychophysical tests were performed, including electrical stimulation of the esophagus, pressure pain thresholds and the cold pressor test as a measure for conditioned pain modulation. Participants completed the Medical Outcome Study Short-Form 36 and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory prior to the experiments. Data were analyzed using two-way repeated measures analysis of variance.
Results: No significant differences were found for the psychophysical tests after the interventions, compared to baseline pain tests and the control condition.
Conclusion: No hypoalgesic effect of aerobic and isometric exercise was found. The evidence for exercise-induced hypoalgesia appears to be not as consistent as initially thought, and caution is recommended when interpreting the effects of exercise on pain.

Keywords: motor activity, breathing exercises, pain measurement, pain perception

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