Individuals with chronic pain conditions often report movement as exacerbating pain. An increasing number of researchers and clinicians have recognized the importance of measuring and distinguishing between movement-evoked pain (MEP) and pain at rest as an outcome. This scoping review maps the literature and describes MEP measurement techniques.
The scoping review utilized six databases to identify original studies that targeted pain or movement-related outcomes. Our search returned 7,322 articles that were screened by title and abstract by two reviewers. The inclusion criteria focused on measurement of MEP before, during and after movement tasks in adults with chronic pain. Studies of children < 18 years of age or with non-human animals, case studies, qualitative studies, book chapters, cancer-related pain, non-English language and abstracts with no full publish text were excluded from the study.
Results from 38 studies revealed great variation in the measurement of MEP, while almost all of the studies did not provide an explicit conceptual or operational definition for MEP. Additionally, studies collectively illuminated differences in MEP compared to rest pain, movement provocation methods, and pain intensity as the primary outcome.
These results have clinically significant and research implications. To advance the study of MEP, we offer that consistent terminology, standardized measurement (appropriate for pain type/population), and clear methodological processes be provided in research publications. Based on the findings, we have put forth a preliminary definition MEP which may benefit from continued scholarly dialogue.