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      Hyperalgesia and Reduced Offset Analgesia During Spinal Anesthesia

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          Spinal anesthesia induces short-term deafferentation and causes connectivity changes in brain areas involved in endogenous pain modulation. We determined whether spinal anesthesia alters pain sensitivity and offset analgesia. Offset analgesia is a manifestation of endogenous pain modulation and characterized by profound analgesia upon a small decrease in noxious stimulation.


          In this randomized controlled crossover trial, static thermal pain responses and offset analgesia were obtained in 22 healthy male volunteers during spinal anesthesia and control conditions (absence of spinal anesthesia). Pain responses and offset analgesia were measured on a remote skin area above the upper level of anesthesia (C8/Th1).


          Following spinal injection of the local anesthetic, the average maximum anesthesia level was Th6. Static pain scores at C8/Th1 were higher during spinal anesthesia compared to control: 59.1 ± 15.0 mm (spinal anesthesia) versus 51.7 ± 19.7 mm (control; p = 0.03). Offset analgesia responses were decreased during spinal analgesia: pain score decrease 79 ± 27% (spinal anesthesia) versus 90 ± 17% (control; p = 0.016).


          We confirmed that spinal anesthesia-induced deafferentation causes hyperalgesic responses to noxious thermal stimulation and reduced offset analgesia at dermatomes remote and above the level of deafferentation. While these data suggest that the reduction of offset analgesia has a central origin, related to alterations in brain areas involved in inhibitory pain control, we cannot exclude alternative (peripheral) mechanisms.

          Trial Registration

          Dutch Cochrane Center under identifier ( www.trialregister.nl ) NL3874.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Tapentadol potentiates descending pain inhibition in chronic pain patients with diabetic polyneuropathy.

          Tapentadol is an analgesic agent for treatment of acute and chronic pain that activates the µ-opioid receptor combined with inhibition of neuronal norepinephrine reuptake. Both mechanisms are implicated in activation of descending inhibitory pain pathways. In this study, we investigated the influence of tapentadol on conditioned pain modulation (CPM, an experimental measure of endogenous pain inhibition that gates incoming pain signals as a consequence of a preceding tonic painful stimulus) and offset analgesia (OA, a test in which a disproportionally large amount of analgesia becomes apparent upon a slight decrease in noxious heat stimulation).
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            Distinct brain mechanisms support spatial vs temporal filtering of nociceptive information.

            The role of endogenous analgesic mechanisms has largely been viewed in the context of gain modulation during nociceptive processing. However, these analgesic mechanisms may play critical roles in the extraction and subsequent utilization of information related to spatial and temporal features of nociceptive input. To date, it remains unknown if spatial and temporal filtering of nociceptive information is supported by similar analgesic mechanisms. To address this question, human volunteers were recruited to assess brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging during conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and offset analgesia (OA). CPM provides one paradigm for assessing spatial filtering of nociceptive information while OA provides a paradigm for assessing temporal filtering of nociceptive information. CPM and OA both produced statistically significant reductions in pain intensity. However, the magnitude of pain reduction elicited by CPM was not correlated with that elicited by OA across different individuals. Different patterns of brain activation were consistent with the psychophysical findings. CPM elicited widespread reductions in regions engaged in nociceptive processing such as the thalamus, insula, and secondary somatosensory cortex. OA produced reduced activity in the primary somatosensory cortex but was associated with greater activation in the anterior insula, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, intraparietal sulcus, and inferior parietal lobule relative to CPM. In the brain stem, CPM consistently produced reductions in activity, while OA produced increases in activity. Conjunction analysis confirmed that CPM-related activity did not overlap with that of OA. Thus, dissociable mechanisms support inhibitory processes engaged during spatial vs temporal filtering of nociceptive information.
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              Offset analgesia: a temporal contrast mechanism for nociceptive information.

              Temporal filtering of afferent information is an intrinsic component of the processing of numerous types of sensory information. To date, no temporal filtering mechanism has been identified for nociceptive information. The phenomenon of offset analgesia, the disproportionately large decrease in perceived pain following slight decreases in noxious thermal intensity, however, suggests the existence of such a mechanism. To test the hypothesis that a temporal filtering mechanism is engaged during noxious stimulus offset, subjects rated heat pain intensity while stimulus fall rates were varied from -0.5 to -5.0 degrees C/s. In the absence of a temporal filtering mechanism, pain intensity would be expected to decrease in direct proportion to the stimulus fall rate. However, psychophysical fall rates were considerably faster than stimulus fall rates, such that subjects reported no pain while stimulus temperatures were clearly within the noxious range (47.2 degrees C). In addition, paired noxious stimuli were presented simultaneously to determine if offset analgesia evoked by one stimulus could inhibit pain arising from a separate population of primary afferent neurons. Pain ratings were significantly lower than those reported from two constant 49 degrees C stimuli when offset analgesia was induced proximal to, but not distal to, a second noxious stimulus. These asymmetric spatial interactions are not readily explained by peripheral mechanisms. Taken together, these findings indicate that offset analgesia is mediated in part by central mechanisms and reflect a temporal filtering of the sensory information that enhances the contrast of dynamic decreases in noxious stimulus intensity.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                24 August 2020
                : 13
                : 2143-2149
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center , Leiden, RC 2300, the Netherlands
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Marieke Niesters Department of Anesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center , H5-022, Leiden, RC2300, the Netherlands Email m.niesters@lumc.nl
                © 2020 Sitsen 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. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 3, References: 27, Pages: 7
                Original Research


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