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Age changes in pain perception: A systematic-review and meta-analysis of age effects on pain and tolerance thresholds

Lautenbacher, S., Peters, J. H., Heesen, M., Scheel, J. & Kunz, M., Apr-2017, In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 75, p. 104-113 10 p.

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  • Age changes in pain perception

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DOI

  • Stefan Lautenbacher
  • Jan H. Peters
  • Michael Heesen
  • Jennifer Scheel
  • Miriam Kunz

Demographic changes, with substantial increase in life expectancy, ask for solid knowledge about how pain perception might be altered by aging. Although psychophysical studies on age-related changes in pain perception have been conducted over more than 70 years, meta-analyses are still missing. The present meta-analysis aimed to quantify evidence on age-related changes in pain perception, indexed by pain thresholds and pain tolerance thresholds in young and older healthy adults. After searching PubMed, Google Scholar and PsycINFO using state-of-art screening (PRISMA-criteria), 31 studies on pain threshold and 9 studies assessing pain tolerance threshold were identified. Pain threshold increases with age, which is indicated by a large effect size. This age-related change increases the wider the age-gap between groups; and is especially prominent when heat is used and when stimuli are applied to the head. In contrast, pain tolerance thresholds did not show substantial age-related changes. Thus, after many years of investigating age-related changes in pain perception, we only have firm evidence that aging reduces pain sensitivity for lower pain intensities. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume75
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017

    Keywords

  • Pain, Aging, Pain threshold, Tolerance thresholds, Pain perception, RANDOM-EFFECTS MODELS, PRESSURE PAIN, THERMAL SENSITIVITY, CONDUCTION VELOCITIES, INHIBITORY CONTROLS, EVOKED POTENTIALS, HUMAN BRAIN, SEX, GENDER, YOUNG

ID: 39566854