Altered cardiovascular/pain regulatory relationships in chronic pain

  • Stephen Bruehl
  • John W. Burns
  • James A. McCubbin


In healthy individuals, there is an inverse relationship between resting blood pressure (BP) and pain sensitivity. This study examined possible dysregulation of this adaptive relation in chronic pain patients, and tested whether the extent of this dysregulation is a function of pain duration, Continuous resting BPs were assessed for 5 min after a 5-min rest period in 121 chronic benign pain patients. Unlike the inverse relationship observed previously in normals, mean resting diastolic BPs during the assessment period were correlated positively with ratings of pain severity. A Pain Duration x Systolic BP i nteraction emerged (p > .05) such that the magnitude of the BP-pain relation was greatest in patients with the longest duration of pain, r(38) = .50, p > .001. A hypothesized progressive alteration in endogenous pain regulatory systems in chronic pain patients was supported. A possible role of endogenous opioid dysfunction in accounting for these alterations is discussed.

Key words

blood pressure (BP) hypertension chronic pain pain sensitivity endogenous opioids 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Bruehl
    • 1
  • John W. Burns
    • 2
  • James A. McCubbin
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Pain StudiesRehabilitation Institute of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFinch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical SchoolNorth ChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyClemson UnivesityClemsonUSA

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