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

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Laura J.G.M. van Weerdenburg, Christina Brock, Asbjørn Mohr Drewes, Harry van Goor, Marjan de Vries, Oliver H.G. Wilder-Smith

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pain Research
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Breathing exercises, Motor activity, Pain measurement, Pain perception

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