Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Low back pain is associated with plasticity changes and central hypersensitivity in a subset of patients. We performed a case-control study to explore the discriminative ability of different quantitative sensory tests in distinguishing between 40 cases with chronic low back pain and 300 pain-free controls, and to rank these tests according to the extent of their association with chronic pain. Gender, age, height, weight, body mass index, and psychological measures were recorded as potential confounders. We used 26 quantitative sensory tests, including different modalities of pressure, heat, cold, and electrical stimulation. As measures of discrimination, we estimated receiver operating characteristics (ROC) and likelihood ratios. Six tests seemed useful (in order of their discriminative ability): (1) pressure pain detection threshold at the site of most severe pain (fitted area under the ROC, 0.87), (2) single electrical stimulation pain detection threshold (0.87), (3) single electrical stimulation reflex threshold (0.83), (4) pressure pain tolerance threshold at the site of most severe pain (0.81), (5) pressure pain detection threshold at suprascapular region (0.80), and (6) temporal summation pain threshold (0.80). Pressure and electrical pain modalities seemed most promising and may be used for diagnosis of pain hypersensitivity and potentially for identifying individuals at risk of developing chronic low back pain over time.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2083 - 2091


Back Pain, Chronic Pain, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pain Measurement, Pain Threshold, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Severity of Illness Index