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      Central poststroke pain: somatosensory abnormalities and the presence of associated myofascial pain syndrome


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          Central post-stroke pain (CPSP) is a neuropathic pain syndrome associated with somatosensory abnormalities due to central nervous system lesion following a cerebrovascular insult. Post-stroke pain (PSP) refers to a broader range of clinical conditions leading to pain after stroke, but not restricted to CPSP, including other types of pain such as myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), painful shoulder, lumbar and dorsal pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and spasticity-related pain. Despite its recognition as part of the general PSP diagnostic possibilities, the prevalence of MPS has never been characterized in patients with CPSP patients. We performed a cross-sectional standardized clinical and radiological evaluation of patients with definite CPSP in order to assess the presence of other non-neuropathic pain syndromes, and in particular, the role of myofascial pain syndrome in these patients.


          CPSP patients underwent a standardized sensory and motor neurological evaluation, and were classified according to stroke mechanism, neurological deficits, presence and profile of MPS. The Visual Analogic Scale (VAS), McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), and Beck Depression Scale (BDS) were filled out by all participants.


          Forty CPSP patients were included. Thirty-six (90.0%) had one single ischemic stroke. Pain presented during the first three months after stroke in 75.0%. Median pain intensity was 10 (5 to 10). There was no difference in pain intensity among the different lesion site groups. Neuropathic pain was continuous-ongoing in 34 (85.0%) patients and intermittent in the remainder. Burning was the most common descriptor (70%). Main aggravating factors were contact to cold (62.5%). Thermo-sensory abnormalities were universal. MPS was diagnosed in 27 (67.5%) patients and was more common in the supratentorial extra-thalamic group (P <0.001). No significant differences were observed among the different stroke location groups and pain questionnaires and scales scores. Importantly, CPSP patients with and without MPS did not differ in pain intensity (VAS), MPQ or BDS scores.


          The presence of MPS is not an exception after stroke and may present in association with CPSP as a common comorbid condition. Further studies are necessary to clarify the role of MPS in CPSP.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Enhanced central pain processing of fibromyalgia patients is maintained by muscle afferent input: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

          Fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome is characterized by pain and widespread hyperalgesia to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli. Despite convincing evidence for central sensitization of nociceptive pain pathways, the role of peripheral tissue impulse input in the initiation and maintenance of FM is unclear. Therefore this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 22 female normal controls (NCs) and 28 female FM subjects tested the effects of trapezius muscle (TrapM) tender point injections with 1% lidocaine on local pain thresholds as well as on remote heat hyperalgesia at the forearm. Prior to muscle injections shoulder pain was standardized by tonic mechanical muscle stimulation, resulting in local pain ratings of 4.0+/-0.5 VAS units. Tonic muscle stimulation was interrupted for the TrapM injections but was continued afterwards at the same level. NC as well as FM subjects experienced significant increases of TrapM pressure pain thresholds from lidocaine injections but not from placebo injections (p<0.001). Additionally, heat hyperalgesia of FM participants was significantly reduced at areas remote from the injection site (forearm) by lidocaine but not by placebo (p=0.02). Neither lidocaine nor saline injections significantly affected clinical FM pain ratings, a result most likely due to the very low dose of lidocaine (50mg) used in this trial. Lidocaine injections increased local pain thresholds and decreased remote secondary heat hyperalgesia in FM patients, emphasizing the important role of peripheral impulse input in maintaining central sensitization in this chronic pain syndrome; similar to other persistent pain conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome.
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            Classification, epidemiology, and natural history of myofascial pain syndrome.

             R Gerwin (2001)
            Myofascial pain syndrome is a disease of muscle that produces local and referred pain. It is characterized by a motor abnormality (a taut or hard band within the muscle) and by sensory abnormalities (tenderness and referred pain). It is classified as a musculoskeletal pain syndrome that can be acute or chronic, regional or generalized. It can be a primary disorder causing local or regional pain syndromes, or a secondary disorder that occurs as a consequence of some other condition. When it becomes chronic, it tends to generalize, but it does not change to fibromyalgia. It is a treatable condition that can respond well to manual and injection techniques, but requires attention to postural, ergonomic, and structural factors, and toxic or metabolic factors that impair muscle function.
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              Chronic pain as a variant of depressive disease: the pain-prone disorder.

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              Review of the literature shows that the common syndrome of chronic pain of uncertain origin appears to be perpetuated by central mechanisms. No plausible neurological theory has been proposed. While the alternative concept of chronic pain as a psychogenic disorder has remained a vague entity, there is strong support to view chronic pain as the prime expression of a muted depressive state. This form of masked depression, however, tends to be associated with a number of characteristic traits. Our studies of patients with chronic pain have led to the identification of a well defined psychobiological disorder with characteristic clinical, psychodynamic, biographic, and genetic features. This syndrome is termed the pain-prone disorder and is viewed as a variant of depressive disease. It proves a distinct entity when compared with a group of patients whose pain can be related to a well defined somatic disease. The chronicity of the disorder appears partially related to the practice of protracted, costly, and futile physical procedures, focusing on a phantom peripheral source of the pain-- a practice commonly pursued by patients and physicians. Recognition of the disorder allows for early, rational, and more effective treatment approaches.

                Author and article information

                BMC Neurol
                BMC Neurol
                BMC Neurology
                BioMed Central
                11 September 2012
                : 12
                : 89
                [1 ]Pain Center, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
                [2 ]Pain Center, Instituto do Câncer do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
                [3 ]Functional Neurosurgery Center for Neurological Restoration, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, USA
                [4 ]Divisão de Clínica Neurológica do Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP Secretaria da Neurologia, Instituto Central, Av. Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar, 255, 5° andar, sala 5084 – Cerqueira César, São Paulo, SP, 05403-900, Brazil
                Copyright ©2012 de Oliveira et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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