Systemic Exercise-Induced Hypoalgesia Following Isometric Exercise Reduces Conditioned Pain Modulation

Document Type




Publication Date



Oxford University Press

Source Publication

Pain Medicine

Source ISSN




Physically active individuals show greater conditioned pain modulation (CPM) compared with less active individuals. Understanding the effects of acute exercise on CPM may allow for a more targeted use of exercise in the management of pain. This study investigated the effects of acute isometric exercise on CPM. In addition, the between-session and within-session reliability of CPM was investigated. Design

Experimental, randomized crossover study. Setting

Laboratory at Marquette University. Subjects

Thirty healthy adults (19.3±1.5 years, 15 males). Methods

Subjects underwent CPM testing before and after isometric exercise (knee extension, 30% maximum voluntary contraction for three minutes) and quiet rest in two separate experimental sessions. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) at the quadriceps and upper trapezius muscles were assessed before, during, and after ice water immersions. Results

PPTs increased during ice water immersion (i.e., CPM), and quadriceps PPT increased after exercise (P < 0.05). CPM decreased similarly following exercise and quiet rest (P > 0.05). CPM within-session reliability was fair to good (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = 0.43–0.70), and the between-session reliability was poor (ICC = 0.20–0.35). Due to the variability in the systemic exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH) response, participants were divided into systemic EIH responders (N = 9) and nonresponders (N = 21). EIH responders experienced attenuated CPM following exercise (P = 0.03), whereas the nonresponders showed no significant change (P > 0.05). Conclusions

Isometric exercise decreased CPM in individuals who reported systemic EIH, suggesting activation of shared mechanisms between CPM and systemic EIH responses. These results may improve the understanding of increased pain after exercise in patients with chronic pain and potentially attenuated CPM.


Pain Medicine (April 3, 2018). DOI.