Nervous System Sensitization as a Predictor of Outcome in the Treatment of Peripheral Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Systematic Review.

Nervous System Sensitization as a Predictor of Outcome in the Treatment of Peripheral Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Systematic Review.

Research suggests that peripheral and central nervous system sensitization can contribute to the overall pain experience in peripheral musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. It is unclear, however, whether sensitization of the nervous system results in poorer outcomes following the treatment. This systematic review investigated whether nervous system sensitization in peripheral MSK conditions predicts poorer clinical outcomes in response to a surgical or conservative intervention. Four electronic databases were searched to identify the relevant studies. Eligible studies had a prospective design, with a follow-up assessing the outcome in terms of pain or disability. Studies that used baseline indices of nervous system sensitization were included, such as quantitative sensory testing (QST) or questionnaires that measured centrally mediated symptoms. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria, of which six were at a high risk of bias. The peripheral MSK conditions investigated were knee and hip osteoarthritis, shoulder pain, and elbow tendinopathy. QST parameters indicative of sensitization (lower electrical pain thresholds, cold hyperalgesia, enhanced temporal summation, lower punctate sharpness thresholds) were associated with negative outcome (more pain or disability) in 5 small exploratory studies. Larger studies that accounted for multiple confounders in design and analysis did not support a predictive relationship between QST parameters and outcome. Two studies used self-report measures to capture comorbid centrally mediated symptoms, and found higher questionnaire scores were independently predictive of more persistent pain following a total joint arthroplasty.

This systematic review found insufficient evidence to support an independent predictive relationship between QST measures of nervous system sensitization and treatment outcome. Self-report measures demonstrated better predictive ability. Further high-quality prognostic research is warranted.

Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.
Scott BuxtonResearch article posted by: Scott Buxton

Scott is editor of Physiospot so expect to see his work popping up frequently. Away from the keyboard he is a physiotherapist specialising in geriatrics.

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