What do the AlgoMed device, conditioned pain modulation and optimism have in common?
Optimism, having a positive outlook on the future, is an inherent trait some people are blessed with. A recent article by Thompson et al. (2018) found that this may be an extra blessing, as optimists (as measured by the revised Life Orientation Test, LOT-R) who suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) have less clinical pain (as measured by the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, SF-MPQ-2). Thus far, nothing new under the sun. However, digging deeper into the root of their relative luck, it was found that optimists suffering from OA had a better endogenous pain inhibition, and hence, less clinical pain.
Pessimists also have a reason to be optimistic about. As it appears, greater resilience is associated with increased conditioned pain modulation, but only for people with low optimism. Resilience is characterized by the ability to get back on your feet in the face of adversities and in chronic pain it might mean staying active and involved in life.
Your take-home message: you better be an optimist, but if not, be a resilient pessimist, it pays off!
CPM in this trial has been assessed using the Medoc’s AlgoMed device for pressure pain thresholds as test pain with a cold bath as conditioning stimulus.
Thompson, K. A., Bulls, H. W., Sibille, K. T., Bartley, E. J., Glover, T. L., Terry, E. L., … & Hughes, L. B. (2018). Optimism and Psychological Resilience are Beneficially Associated With Measures of Clinical and Experimental Pain in Adults With or at Risk for Knee Osteoarthritis. The Clinical journal of pain, 34(12), 1164-1172.