Pressure pain thresholds in office workers with chronic neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Authors: Alexandre Maurício Passos Nunes MSc, João Paulo Azinheira Martins Moita PhD, Maria Margarida Marques Rebelo Espanha PhD, Kristian Kjær Petersen PhD, Lars Arendt-Nielsen Dr. Med. PhD,
Journal: PAIN Pactrice



The purpose of this study was to (a) compare pressure pain threshold (PPT) values between office workers with chronic neck pain and asymptomatic controls; (b) establish reference PPT values in chronic neck pain; and (c) evaluate associations between PPTs and pain intensity, and disability.


Seven English/Portuguese databases were searched for relevant literature. Studies investigating adult office workers (age >18 years) with chronic neck pain were included if PPTs were an outcome. The risk of bias was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist. Meta-analysis was conducted if a cluster contained at least two studies reporting the same PPTs.


Ten high quality, two low quality, and one poor quality studies were included. The meta-analysis revealed decreased PPT values in the upper trapezius, extensor carpi ulnaris, and tibialis anterior in office workers with chronic neck pain when compared with healthy workers, without a statistical difference (p > 0.05). The PPT reference value in the upper trapezius was 263 kPa (95% confidence interval [CI] = 236.35 to 289.70), and 365 kPa (95% CI = 316.66 to 415.12) for the tibialis anterior in office workers with chronic neck pain. No correlations were found between the upper trapezius PPT and pain intensity and disability.


This meta-analysis found that all the PPT measurements were not significantly reduced in office workers with chronic neck pain compared with healthy workers. These assumptions were based on a small sample of existing studies, and therefore further studies are necessary to quantify the differences in PPTs. Hypersensitivity PPT reference values are proposed for localized and extrasegmental sites in office workers with chronic neck pain.

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