Catastrophizing is reliably associated with increased reports of clinical and experimental pain. To test the hypothesis that catastrophizing may heighten pain experience by increasing nociceptive transmission through spinal gating mechanisms, the present study examined catastrophizing as a predictor of pain ratings and nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR) thresholds in 88 young adult men (n=47) and women (n=41). The NFR threshold was defined as the intensity of electrocutaneous sural nerve stimulation required to elicit a withdrawal response from the biceps femoris muscle of the ipsilateral leg. Participants completed an assessment of their NFR threshold and then provided pain ratings using both a numerical rating scale (NRS) and the short-form McGill pain questionnaire (SF-MPQ). Pain catastrophizing was assessed using the catastrophizing subscale of the coping strategies questionnaire (CSQ). Although catastrophizing was positively related to both NRS and SF-MPQ pain ratings, catastrophizing was not significantly related to NFR threshold. These findings suggest that differential modulation of spinal nociceptive input may not account for the relationship between catastrophizing and increased pain.
- Nociceptive flexion reflex