Inventory of Personal Factors Influencing Conditioned Pain Modulation in Healthy People

Conditioned pain modulation (CPM) is thought to play an important role in the development and exacerbation of chronic pain, because dysfunction of CPM is associated with a shift in balance between pain facilitation and pain inhibition. In many patients with central sensitization, CPM is less effective. Besides that, efficacy of CPM is highly variable in healthy people. As a result, it appears that several individual variables may influence CPM. A systematic review examining personal factors affecting CPM was conducted. Forty-six articles were identified that reported the influence of personal factors on CPM. Quality assessment revealed 10 studies with a methodological quality less than 50% wherefore they were excluded (21.8%), with the result of a general total methodological quality score of 72.5%. Overall younger adult age, male gender, ovulatory phase, positive expectations, attention to the conditioning stimulus, and carrier of the 5-HTTLPR long allele result in better CPM.

It is suggested for future studies to take these factors into account. Further research regarding the influence of oral contraceptives, catastrophizing, information about conditioning stimulation, distraction, physical activity, and genetics on CPM magnitude is necessary.