Pain-related Catastrophizing in Healthy Women Is Associated With Greater Temporal Summation of and Reduced Habituation to Thermal Pain

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ObjectivePain-related coping strategies, especially catastrophizing, play an influential role in shaping pain responses. However, although numerous studies have examined the impact of catastrophizing on chronic pain outcomes, relatively few have evaluated relationships between individual differences in pain-related catastrophizing and pain perception, with most of those studies examining only pain threshold or pain tolerance. We assessed, for the first time, catastrophizing's association with the magnitude of temporal summation of pain, a primary marker for central nervous system sensitizability.MethodsThirty-eight healthy young women underwent standardized experimental pain testing, followed by administration of a brief questionnaire that assessed catastrophizing cognitions during the pain-testing session.ResultsHigher levels of pain-related catastrophizing were related to higher suprathreshold pain ratings and greater temporal summation of thermal pain, suggesting that catastrophizing may play a facilitatory role in the processing of pain-related information, though the specific pathways underlying this facilitation are not clear.ConclusionsThese preliminary findings highlight the importance of coping in shaping individuals' responses to noxious stimuli, and suggest that interventions that decrease pain catastrophizing may reduce the burden of acute and chronic pain.

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