Background: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) affects 1/3 of adults and is associated with considerable costs. Trauma is a known predictor of the development of chronic pain including CLBP. There is also evidence that people with CLBP are more likely to experience central sensitization which is associated with a greater burden of pain. However, the relationship between trauma and central sensitization remains unclear. The aim of this study was to understand how trauma is related to central sensation among people with CLBP.
Methods: Participants with CLBP (N=45) completed the Childhood Traumatic Events Scale (CTES) and the Recent Traumatic Events Scale (RTES) and a quantitative sensory testing (QST) battery including pressure threshold and tolerance and temporal summation of mechanical pain. Correlations were conducted to assess relationships between CTES/RTES and QST measures.
Results: Greater childhood trauma was associated with a lower pressure needed to produce 40/100 pain (P40) [ r(43)= -0.48, p<0.05].
Conclusion: Childhood trauma was associated with lower P40 values, an indication of pain sensitivity at a site distal to the patients’ pain (i.e., back). Future research should examine the impact of specific types of trauma on pain sensitization as well as examine additional QST modalities.