Normative model for cold pressor test

N. E. Walsh, L. Schoenfeld, S. Ramamurthy, J. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


The cold pressor test elicits an emotional/motivation pain experience from the immersion of a limb in cold water. It has been widely used to evaluate (experimental and chronic) pain. However, normative models for quantification and comparison for pain tolerance have not previously been established. This study developed a normative mathematical model for pain tolerance using the cold pressor test with over 600 subjects. Norms for age, sex, and ethnic group were calculated. In addition, chronic pain patient were compared with painfree patients to determine normative differences in response. The results indicate that at any given age Anglo-Saxon males have the longest tolerance time followed by non-Anglo-Saxon males, Anglo-Saxon females, and finally non-Anglo-Saxon females. There is a consistent decrease in tolerance time as the male age increases and minimal change in tolerance time as the female age increases. Chronic pain patients exhibited the same type of pain response pattern as healthy volunteers when corrected for age, sex, and ethnocultural subgroup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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