Background: Measures of central pain processing like conditioned pain modulation and suprathreshold heat pain response (SHPR) have been described to assess different components of central pain modulatory mechanisms. Central pain processing potentially plays a role in the development of postsurgical pain, however, the role of conditioned pain modulation and SHPR in explaining postoperative clinical pain and disability is still unclear.
Methods: Seventy-eight patients with clinical shoulder pain were included in this study. Patients were examined before shoulder surgery, at 3 months, and 6 months after surgery. The primary outcome measures were pain intensity and upper extremity disability.
Results: Analyses revealed that the change score (baseline- 3 mo) of fifth pain rating of SHPR accounted for a significant amount of variance in 6-month postsurgical clinical pain intensity and disability after age, sex, preoperative pain intensity, and relevant psychological factors were considered.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that baseline measures of central pain processing were not predictive of 6-month postoperative pain outcome. Instead, the 3-month change in SHPR might be a relevant factor in the transition to an elevated 6-month postoperative pain and disability outcomes. In patients with shoulder pain, the 3-month change in a measure of central pain processing might be a relevant factor in the transition to elevated 6-month postoperative pain and disability scores.