Pressure pain thresholds in individuals with knee pain: a cross-sectional study

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Background: Knee osteoarthritis (KOA), chronic widespread pain (CWP) and overweight/obesity are public health problems that often coincide, and there is a multifactorial and unclear relationship between them. The study aimed to (1) investigate pain sensitivity, assessed by pressure pain thresholds (PPTs), among women and men with knee pain and (2) associations with, respectively, radiographic KOA (rKOA), CWP, and overweight/obesity. Methods: Baseline data from an ongoing longitudinal study involving 280 individuals with knee pain in the 30–60 age group. Pain sensitivity was assessed by PPTs on eight different tender points using a pressure algometer. The participants’ knees were x-rayed. Self-reported CWP and number of pain sites were assessed with a pain figure, and overweight/obesity was measured using body mass index (BMI), visceral fat area (VFA), and body fat percentage, assessed with a bioimpedance. Associations were analysed using regression analyses. Results: Women reported lower PPTs than men (p < 0.001), but no PPTs differences were found between those with and without rKOA. Low PPTs was associated with female sex, more pain sites, CWP, and a higher VFA and body fat percentage. The tender points second rib and the knees were most affected. The prevalence of CWP was 38 %. Conclusions: The modifiable factors, increased VFA, and body fat could be associated with increased pain sensitivity among individuals with knee pain. Longitudinal studies are needed to further investigate the associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number516
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Orthopedics


  • Chronic widespread pain
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Pain sensitivity
  • Pressure pain thresholds


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