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Does exercise induce hypoalgesia through conditioned pain modulation?

Authors

  • Laura D. Ellingson,

    1. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    2. Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
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  • Kelli F. Koltyn,

    1. Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
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  • Jee-Seon Kim,

    1. Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
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  • Dane B. Cook

    Corresponding author
    1. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    2. Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    • Address correspondence to: Dane B. Cook, Department of Kinesiology, 2000 Observatory Drive, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail: dcook@education.wisc.edu

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  • This manuscript is based on data collected as part of the doctoral dissertation of Laura D. Ellingson.

Abstract

Pain sensitivity decreases with exercise. The mechanisms that underlie this exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH) are unclear. Our purpose was to investigate conditioned pain modulation (CPM) as a potential mechanism of EIH. Sixteen women completed pain testing during three sessions: painful exercise, nonpainful exercise, and quiet rest. Intensity and unpleasantness ratings to noxious heat stimuli were assessed at baseline and during and following each session. Results showed that pain sensitivity decreased significantly during both exercise sessions (p < .05), but not during quiet rest. Effect size calculations showed that the size of the hypoalgesic response was greater following painful exercise than nonpainful exercise. Our results suggest that exercise-induced muscle pain may contribute to the magnitude of EIH. However, as pain sensitivity also decreased following nonpainful exercise, CPM is not likely the primary mechanism of EIH.

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