The Reliability and Validity of Using Ice to Measure Cold Pain Threshold

  • Tilley P
  • Bisset L
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Cold pain threshold (CPT) measures an individual’s pain threshold in response to a cold stimulus. CPT is most accurately determined with specialised equipment; however this technology is not readily accessible to clinicians. Instead, ice has been employed to measure CPT. An optimal ice protocol has not yet been identified. The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of two CPT protocols using ice in a young, healthy population. Twenty-two participants aged 22.6 (SD 1.81) years underwent CPT measurements over 6 anatomical sites across 3 protocols, which were repeated in 2 sessions. One protocol measured pain (PVAS) following ice applied for a standardised period of 30 seconds; a second protocol measured time to onset of pain, and the reference standard measured CPT using laboratory equipment (TSA-II). The PVAS protocol demonstrated the best reliability (mean ICC 0.783, 95% CI 0.706 to 0.841), but the Timed protocol demonstrated superior validity compared to the reference standard (mean ICC −0.504, 95% CI −0.621 to −0.365).




Tilley, P., & Bisset, L. (2017). The Reliability and Validity of Using Ice to Measure Cold Pain Threshold. BioMed Research International, 2017, 1–6.

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