Influence of Experimental Pain on the Perception of Action Capabilities and Performance of a Maximal Single-Leg Hop

  • Thibault Deschamps
    Address reprint requests to Thibault Deschamps, PhD, University of Nantes, Laboratory “Motricité, Interactions, Performance” (EA 4334), 25 bis boulevard Guy Mollet, BP 72206, 44322 Nantes Cedex 3, France.
    University of Nantes, Laboratory “Motricité, Interactions, Performance” (EA 4334), Nantes, France
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  • François Hug
    University of Nantes, Laboratory “Motricité, Interactions, Performance” (EA 4334), Nantes, France

    The University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • Paul W. Hodges
    The University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • Kylie Tucker
    The University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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Published:November 25, 2013DOI:


      Changes in an individual's state—for example, anxiety/chronic pain—can modify the perception of action capabilities and physical task requirements. In parallel, considerable literature supports altered motor performance during both acute and chronic pain. This study aimed to determine the effect of experimental pain on perception of action capabilities and performance of a dynamic motor task. Performance estimates and actual performance of maximal single-leg hops were recorded for both legs in 13 healthy participants before, during, and after an episode of acute pain induced by a single bolus injection of hypertonic saline into vastus lateralis of 1 leg, with the side counterbalanced among participants. Both estimation of performance and actual performance were smaller (P < .01) during pain than before and after pain. This decrease in estimation and performance during pain was apparent for hops using either leg, but it was greater (P < .01) for the painful leg (−10.8 ± 12.1 cm) than for the control leg (−5.5 ± 7.9 cm). Participants accurately estimated their performance in all conditions for both legs. The results provide evidence that healthy participants have the ability to update the action-scaled relationship between perception and ability during acute pain.


      This study demonstrates that the relationship between perceived physical ability and actual performance is effectively updated during acute muscle pain. This match between perceived ability and performance could be relevant during clinical pain assessment, with the potential to be a biomarker of transition from acute to chronic pain state.

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