Intermittent Infusion of Sterile 5% Hypertonic Saline Produces Consistent Pain while Cryotherapy Decreases the Pain

Kenneth L Knight, Blaine Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: It is suggested that postinjury pain is difficult to examine; thus, investigators have developed experimental pain models. To minimize pain, cryotherapy (cryo) is applied, but reports on its effectiveness are limited. Objective: To investigate a pain model for the anterior knee and examine cryo in reducing the pain. Design: Controlled laboratory study. Setting: Therapeutic modality laboratory. Participants: 30 physically active healthy male subjects who were free from any lower extremity orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, or endocrine pathologies. Main Outcome Measures: Perceived pain was measured every minute. Surface temperature was also assessed in the center of the patella and the popliteal fossa. Results: There was a significant interaction between group and time (F68,864 = 3.0, P = .0001). At the first minute, there was no difference in pain between the 3 groups (saline/cryo = 4.80 ± 4.87 mm, saline/sham = 2.80 ± 3.55 mm, no saline/ cryo = 4.00 ± 3.33 mm). During the first 5 min, pain increased from 4.80 ± 4.87 to 45.90 ± 21.17 mm in the saline/cryo group and from 2.80 ± 3.55 to 31.10 ± 20.25 mm in the saline/sham group. Pain did not change within the no-saline/cryo group, 4.00 ± 3.33 to 1.70 ± 1.70 mm. Pain for the saline/sham group remained constant for 17 min. Cryo decreased pain for 16 min in the saline/cryo group. There was no difference in preapplication surface temperature between or within each group. No change in temperature occurred within the saline/sham. Cooling and rewarming were similar in both cryo groups. Ambient temperature fluctuated less than 1°C during data collection. Conclusion: Intermittent infusion of sterile 5% hypertonic saline may be a useful experimental pain model in establishing a constant level of pain in a controlled laboratory setting. Cryotherapy decreased the induced anterior knee pain for 16 min.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-230
JournalJournal of Sport Rehabilitation
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2012


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