Age and Gender as Factors of Pressure Sensitivity of Pain-Free Persons: Are They Meaningful?

Cámara, Rafael J A; Gharbo, Raschid K; Egloff, Niklaus (2020). Age and Gender as Factors of Pressure Sensitivity of Pain-Free Persons: Are They Meaningful? Journal of pain research, 13, pp. 1849-1859. Dove Medical Press 10.2147/JPR.S248664

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Prior findings suggest that women and elderly persons are more sensitive to pressure than men and younger persons; however, the magnitudes of these differences are substantially inconsistent. We answered the question whether the higher sensitivity of women and elderly persons is quantitatively meaningful. Specifically, we investigated if it is large enough to hamper the diagnosis, classification and follow-up of pain conditions by clinicians.

Materials and Methods

From each age stratum (18-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, and >80 years), 40 pain-free women and 40 pain-free men were recruited. They rated the intensity of pressure of ten Newtons over ten seconds on an analogue zero to ten rating scale. The pressure was applied on their middle fingers and ear lobes with a threshold algometer. Centile curves visualized the sex- and age-dependent fluctuation of pressure sensitivity.


Over the entire age range from 20 to 80 years, the median curves fluctuated within the interval of less than two points. The distance between the median curves of men and women was also less than two points. On the average, the median difference was half a point on the finger (p = 0.249) and the ear lobe (p = 0.083).


Less than two points is below the minimal clinically important difference for a zero to ten analogue pain rating scale; differences smaller than one point are even below the resolution of the scale. Sex differences and age fluctuations of pressure sensitivity are negligible.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Egloff, Niklaus




Dove Medical Press




Chantal Kottler

Date Deposited:

20 Nov 2020 17:52

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:42

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

age pain sensitivity sex




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