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      Endogenous inhibition of pain and spinal nociception in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder

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          Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is characterized by severe affective and physical symptoms, such as increased pain, during the late-luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The mechanisms underlying hyperalgesia in women with PMDD have yet to be identified, and supraspinal pain modulation has yet to be examined in this population. The present study assessed endogenous pain inhibitory processing by examining conditioned pain modulation (CPM, a painful conditioning stimulus inhibiting pain evoked by a test stimulus at a distal body site) of pain and the nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR, a spinally-mediated withdrawal reflex) during the mid-follicular, ovulatory, and late-luteal phases of the menstrual cycle.


          Participants were regularly-cycling women (14 without PMDD; 14 with PMDD). CPM was assessed by delivering electrocutaneous test stimuli to the sural nerve before, during, and after a painful conditioning ischemia task. Participants rated their pain to electrocutaneous stimuli, and NFR magnitudes were measured. A linear mixed model analysis was used to assess the influence of group and menstrual phase on CPM.


          Compared with controls, women with PMDD experienced greater pain during the late-luteal phase and enhanced spinal nociception during the ovulation phase, both of which were independent of CPM. Both groups showed CPM inhibition of pain that did not differ by menstrual phase. Only women with PMDD evidenced CPM inhibition of NFR.


          Endogenous modulation of pain and spinal nociception is not disrupted in women with PMDD. Additionally, greater NFR magnitudes during ovulation in PMDD may be due to tonically-engaged descending mechanisms that facilitate spinal nociception, leading to enhanced pain during the premenstrual phase.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorder, 4th edition-text revision

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            The influence of menstrual phases on pain modulation in healthy women.

            This study investigated if conditioned pain modulation (CPM) varies across the menstrual cycle in healthy, normally menstruating women and investigated correlations between sex hormone levels and CPM across the menstrual cycle. Thirty-six normally menstruating women were tested during 3 phases of the menstrual cycle: early follicular, ovulatory, and midluteal, confirmed by hormone determinations. Mechanical pressure (test stimulus) was applied to the masseter muscle and the induced pain assessed before, during, and after immersion of the hand into ice water (conditioning stimulus) to activate CPM or tepid water (control). Conditioning pain, ie, pain in the hand during CPM/control experiment, and tolerance time were also measured. Test pain intensity was suppressed during CPM in all phases (P < .001), but with more effective suppression during the ovulatry than during the early follicular phase (P < .05). There were no changes in test pain intensity during the control experiment and no significant differences in conditioning pain, or tolerance time between phases. In conclusion, our results showed more effective pain modulation in the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, when estradiol levels are high and progesterone levels are low, than in the early follicular phase when both these hormones are low. Deficient pain modulation is believed to be an important pathogenic factor in many chronic pain conditions that affect women. This article shows that sex hormones modulate conditioned pain modulation, because pain inhibition was more effective in the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle than in the early follicular phase. Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Defining the nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR) threshold in human participants: a comparison of different scoring criteria.

              Despite the widespread use of the nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR) paradigm in clinical and experimental pain research, there is currently no consensus on how best to define NFR threshold. Accordingly, the present studies were designed to assess the accuracy and reliability of different NFR threshold scoring criteria. Study 1 compared 13 scoring criteria in their accuracy for identifying the presence of the NFR, then generated empirically derived cut-points for the best criteria, and examined the test-retest reliability of NFR thresholds derived from these cut-points. Study 2 evaluated the replicability of these findings in an independent sample. Results from the two studies suggested that standardized peak (NFR Interval Peak z score) and mean (NFR Interval z score) biceps femoris electromyogram (EMG) activity were accurate and reliable criteria for defining NFR threshold. Acknowledging that cut-points may need to be adjusted for different research designs, graphs depicting sensitivity and specificity across a range of cut-points have been provided to facilitate researcher's decision-making. It is hoped that the results of these studies will promote a standard NFR threshold assessment methodology, and further encourage the application of the NFR paradigm in the investigation of mechanisms and characteristics of both painful and non-painful diseases.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                11 February 2016
                : 9
                : 57-66
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, USA
                [2 ]Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jamie L Rhudy, Department of Psychology, University of Tulsa, 800 South Tucker Drive, Tulsa, OK 74104, USA, Tel +1 918 631 2839, Fax +1 918 631 2833, Email jamie-rhudy@ 123456utulsa.edu
                © 2016 Palit et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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