The nociceptive withdrawal reflex: Normative values of thresholds and reflex receptive fields

Neziri, Alban Y.; Andersen, Ole K.; Petersen-Felix, Steen; Radanov, Bogdan; Dickenson, Anthony H.; Scaramozzino, Pasquale; Arendt-Nielsen, Lars; Curatolo, Michele (2010). The nociceptive withdrawal reflex: Normative values of thresholds and reflex receptive fields. European journal of pain, 14(2), pp. 134-141. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 10.1016/j.ejpain.2009.04.010

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Assessments of spinal nociceptive withdrawal reflexes can be used in human research both to evaluate the effect of analgesics and explore pain mechanisms related to sensitization. Before the reflex can be used as a clinical tool, normative values need to be determined in large scale studies. The aim of this study was to determine the reference values of spinal nociceptive reflexes and subjective pain thresholds (to single and repeated stimulation), and of the area of the reflex receptive fields (RRF) in 300 pain-free volunteers. The influences of gender, age, height, weight, body-mass index (BMI), body side of testing, depression, anxiety, catastrophizing and parameters of Short-Form 36 (SF-36) were analyzed by multiple regressions. The 95% confidence intervals were determined for all the tests as normative values. Age had a statistically and quantitatively significant impact on the subjective pain threshold to single stimuli. The reflex threshold to single stimulus was lower on the dominant compared to the non-dominant side. Depression had a negative impact on the subjective pain threshold to single stimuli. All the other analyses either did not reveal statistical significance or displayed quantitatively insignificant correlations. In conclusion, normative values of parameters related to the spinal nociceptive reflex were determined. This allows their clinical application for assessing central hyperexcitability in individual patients. The parameters investigated explore different aspects of sensitization processes that are largely independent of demographic characteristics, cognitive and affective factors.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > Clinic and Policlinic for Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy

UniBE Contributor:

Neziri, Alban Y. and Curatolo, Michele


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Jeannie Wurz

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:07

Last Modified:

23 Jan 2018 12:17

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 195705)

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