Adults with patellofemoral pain do not exhibit manifestations of peripheral and central sensitization when compared to healthy pain-free age and sex matched controls - An assessor blinded cross-sectional study
Patellofemoral Pain (PFP) is highly prevalent among adults and adolescents. Localized mechanical hyperalgesia around the knee and tibialis anterior have been observed in people with PFP, but limited knowledge of potential manifestations of central sensitisation exists. The aims of this study were to study conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and wide-spread hyperalgesia in adults with PFP. This assessor-blinded cross-sectional study design compared CPM and mechanical pressure pain thresholds (PPT) between 33 adults (23 females) diagnosed with PFP and 32 age and sex matched pain-free controls. The investigator taking the PPT measurements was blinded to which participants had PFP. PPTs were reliably measured using a Somedic hand-held pressure algometer at three sites: 1) The centre of the patella, 2) the tibialis anterior muscle and 3) a remote site on the lateral epicondyle. For the assessment of CPM, experimental pain was induced to the contralateral hand by immersion into a cold water bath (conditioning stimulus), and assessment of PPTs (the test stimulus) was performed before and immediately after the conditioning stimulation. On average, the CPM paradigm induced a significant increase in PPTs across the three sites (6.3-13.5%, P<0.05), however there was no difference in CPM between young adults with PFP compared to the control group, (F(1,189) = 0.39, P = 0.89). There was no difference in mechanical PPTs between the two groups (F(1,189) = 0.03, P = 0.86). Contrary to our a-priori hypothesis, we found no difference in CPM or PPT between young adults with PFP and age and sex matched pain-free controls.