Emerging evidence indicates that pain sensitization plays a significant part in pain associated with knee osteoarthritis (OA). This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the evidence for pain sensitization in people with knee OA and the relationship between pain sensitization and severity of symptoms. Fifteen studies were identified following screening and quality appraisal. For the meta-analysis, pressure pain threshold (PPT) and heat pain threshold (HPT) means and standard deviations were pooled using random effects models. The point estimate was large for differences in PPTs between knee OA participants and controls [-0.85; confidence interval (CI):-1.1 to-0.6], and moderate for PPT differences between knee OA participants with high symptom severity vs those with low symptom severity (0.51; CI:-0.73 to-0.30). A small point estimate was found for differences in HPTs between knee OA participants and controls (-0.42; CI:-0.87 to 0.02).
Evidence from this systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that pain sensitization is present in people with knee OA and could be related to knee OA symptom severity.