Hand dominancy-A feature affecting sensitivity to pain

Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.03). 10/2009; 467(3):237-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.10.048
Source: PubMed


Hand dominancy (i.e. handedness) is a factor that should be considered for further characterizing individual variations in sensitivity to pain. The aim of the present study was to examine the contribution of handedness and gender to sensitivity to tonic cold pain in healthy subjects. Participants were 109 healthy volunteers (52 males and 57 females), of whom 65 were right-handed and 44 left-handed. Subjects were exposed to the cold pressor test (1 degrees C) for both hands while measuring the cold pain threshold, intensity, and tolerance. No significant differences were found in pain threshold or intensity between the right versus the left hands among either the right-handed or the left-handed subjects. However, among the right-handed subjects only, cold pain tolerance was significantly longer in the right hand than in the left hand (32.9+/-5.1s vs. 27.0+/-4.2s, respectively; p=0.018). Significant differences were found between males and females in pain threshold, but not in pain intensity or tolerance, either when their right or left hand was tested (p=0.027 and p=0.009, respectively). Analyzing pain perception by handedness and gender revealed that the right-handed males were less sensitive to pain in their right versus their left hand, as determined by lower pain intensity (p=0.031) and longer tolerance (p=0.047). No significant differences were found among the left-handed males or among the females. The results provide further evidence that handedness is one vital feature that should be considered more often when designing a psychophysical study. This may lead towards improving the translation of laboratory research findings to the clinical setting.

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    • "In addition to these potentially innovative and generative implications, a discussion of study’s limitations is warranted. General methodological limitations are that: a) the cold pressor study did not control for handedness, which is known to influence CPT measurements [46]; b) reactions to the discomfort tasks might not predict reactions to other forms of painful and non-painful stimuli; c) results from American university students might not generalize to different ages, cultures, and social network structures; and d) self-reports of menstrual functioning might be biased and noisy. Finally, since the study is cross-sectional, the presumed influence of social experiences on pain sensitivity can only be considered tentative, and there are alternative hypotheses for the present findings. "
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    ABSTRACT: We explored the social-signaling hypothesis that variability in exogenous pain sensitivities across the menstrual cycle is moderated by women's current romantic relationship status and hence the availability of a solicitous social partner for expressing pain behaviors in regular, isochronal ways. In two studies, we used the menstrual calendars of healthy women to provide a detailed approximation of the women's probability of conception based on their current cycle-day, along with relationship status, and cold pressor pain and ischemic pain sensitivities, respectively. In the first study (n = 135; 18-46 yrs., Mage = 23 yrs., 50% natural cycling), we found that naturally-cycling, pair-bonded women showed a positive correlation between the probability of conception and ischemic pain intensity (r = .45), associations not found for single women or hormonal contraceptive-users. A second study (n = 107; 19-29 yrs., Mage = 20 yrs., 56% natural cycling) showed a similar association between greater conception risk and higher cold-pressor pain intensity in naturally-cycling, pair-bonded women only (r = .63). The findings show that variability in exogenous pain sensitivities across different fertility phases of the menstrual cycle is contingent on basic elements of women's social environment and inversely correspond to variability in naturally occurring, perimenstrual symptoms. These findings have wide-ranging implications for: a) standardizing pain measurement protocols; b) understanding basic biopsychosocial pain-related processes; c) addressing clinical pain experiences in women; and d) understanding how pain influences, and is influenced by, social relationships.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "In addition to the project’s potentially innovative findings, discussion of limitations is warranted. General methodological limitations are that: a) the study did not control for handedness, which is known to influence CPT measurements [60]; b) reactions to CPT might not predict reactions to other forms of pain; c) results from American university students might not generalize to different ages, cultures, and social network structures; d) self-reports of social network structures and functionality might be biased and noisy; and e) sex differences may be influenced by cultural norms regarding pain sensitivity. It is also likely that initial floor effects confound laboratory discomfort tasks in which felt pain graduates from being nonexistent to being unbearable. "
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    ABSTRACT: This is the first study to examine how both structural and functional components of individuals' social networks may moderate the association between biological sex and experimental pain sensitivity. One hundred and fifty-two healthy adults (mean age = 22yrs., 53% males) were measured for cold pressor task (CPT) pain sensitivity (i.e., intensity ratings) and core aspects of social networks (e.g., proportion of friends vs. family, affection, affirmation, and aid). Results showed consistent sex differences in how social network structures and intimate relationship functioning modulated pain sensitivity. Females showed higher pain sensitivity when their social networks consisted of a higher proportion of intimate types of relationship partners (e.g., kin vs. non kin), when they had known their network partners for a longer period of time, and when they reported higher levels of logistical support from their significant other (e.g., romantic partner). Conversely, males showed distinct patterns in the opposite direction, including an association between higher levels of logistical support from one's significant other and lower CPT pain intensity. These findings show for the first time that the direction of sex differences in exogenous pain sensitivity is likely dependent on fundamental components of the individual's social environment. The utility of a social-signaling perspective of pain behaviors for examining, comparing, and interpreting individual and group differences in experimental and clinical pain reports is discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "With respect to the GO nerve PPT, the SMI technique slightly raised this mechanosensitivity threshold with statistical significance only on the nondominant side, and even then, the clinical effect observed was low. Pud et al 38 (2009) noted the importance of controlling for handedness in studies evaluating sensitivity to various nociceptive stimuli. Because 91.6% of the study subjects (22/24) had the right as dominant side, it would be interesting to look into the possible causes of the differences in sensitivity found between the 2 sides. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to measure the immediate differences in craniocervical posture and pressure pain threshold of the greater occipital (GO) nerve in asymptomatic subjects with a history of having used orthodontics, after intervention by a suboccipital muscle inhibition (SMI) technique. This was a randomized, single-blind, clinical study with a sample of 24 subjects (21 ± 1.78 years) that were divided into an experimental group (n = 12) who underwent the SMI technique and a sham group (n = 12) who underwent a sham (placebo) intervention. The sitting and standing craniovertebral angle and the pressure pain threshold of the GO nerve in both hemispheres were measured. The between-group comparison of the sample indicated that individuals subjected to the SMI technique showed a statistically significant increase in the craniovertebral angle in both the sitting (P < .001, F(1,22) = 102.09, R(2) = 0.82) and the standing (P < .001, F(1,22) = 21.42, R(2) = 0.56) positions and in the GO nerve pressure pain threshold in the nondominant hemisphere (P = .014, F(1,22) = 7.06, R(2) = 0.24). There were no statistically significant differences observed for the GO nerve mechanosensitivity in the dominant side (P = .202). Suboccipital muscle inhibition technique immediately improved the position of the head with the subject seated and standing, the clinical effect size being large in the former case. It also immediately decreased the mechanosensitivity of the GO nerve in the nondominant hemisphere, although the effect size was small.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics
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