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      Assessment and manifestation of central sensitisation across different chronic pain conditions

      , , , , , , , ,

      European Journal of Pain

      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Abstract

          Different neuroplastic processes can occur along the nociceptive pathways and may be important in the transition from acute to chronic pain and for diagnosis and development of optimal management strategies. The neuroplastic processes may result in gain (sensitisation) or loss (desensitisation) of function in relation to the incoming nociceptive signals. Such processes play important roles in chronic pain, and although the clinical manifestations differ across condition processes, they share some common mechanistic features. The fundamental understanding and quantitative assessment of particularly some of the central sensitisation mechanisms can be translated from preclinical studies into the clinic. The clinical perspectives are implementation of such novel information into diagnostics, mechanistic phenotyping, prevention, personalised treatment, and drug development. The aims of this paper are to introduce and discuss (1) some common fundamental central pain mechanisms, (2) how they may translate into the clinical signs and symptoms across different chronic pain conditions, (3) how to evaluate gain and loss of function using quantitative pain assessment tools, and (4) the implications for optimising prevention and management of pain. The chronic pain conditions selected for the paper are neuropathic pain in general, musculoskeletal pain (chronic low back pain and osteoarthritic pain in particular), and visceral pain (irritable bowel syndrome in particular). The translational mechanisms addressed are local and widespread sensitisation, central summation, and descending pain modulation.

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          Most cited references 275

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          Mechanisms of neuropathic pain.

          Neuropathic pain refers to pain that originates from pathology of the nervous system. Diabetes, infection (herpes zoster), nerve compression, nerve trauma, "channelopathies," and autoimmune disease are examples of diseases that may cause neuropathic pain. The development of both animal models and newer pharmacological strategies has led to an explosion of interest in the underlying mechanisms. Neuropathic pain reflects both peripheral and central sensitization mechanisms. Abnormal signals arise not only from injured axons but also from the intact nociceptors that share the innervation territory of the injured nerve. This review focuses on how both human studies and animal models are helping to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these surprisingly common disorders. The rapid gain in knowledge about abnormal signaling promises breakthroughs in the treatment of these often debilitating disorders.
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            Sensitization in patients with painful knee osteoarthritis.

            Pain is the dominant symptom in osteoarthritis (OA) and sensitization may contribute to the pain severity. This study investigated the role of sensitization in patients with painful knee OA by measuring (1) pressure pain thresholds (PPTs); (2) spreading sensitization; (3) temporal summation to repeated pressure pain stimulation; (4) pain responses after intramuscular hypertonic saline; and (5) pressure pain modulation by heterotopic descending noxious inhibitory control (DNIC). Forty-eight patients with different degrees of knee OA and twenty-four age- and sex-matched control subjects participated. The patients were separated into strong/severe (VAS>or=6) and mild/moderate pain (VAS<6) groups. PPTs were measured from the peripatellar region, tibialis anterior (TA) and extensor carpi radialis longus muscles before, during and after DNIC. Temporal summation to pressure was measured at the most painful site in the peripatellar region and over TA. Patients with severely painful OA pain have significantly lower PPT than controls. For all locations (knee, leg, and arm) significantly negative correlations between VAS and PPT were found (more pain, more sensitization). OA patients showed a significant facilitation of temporal summation from both the knee and TA and had significantly less DNIC as compared with controls. No correlations were found between standard radiological findings and clinical/experimental pain parameters. However, patients with lesions in the lateral tibiofemoral knee compartment had higher pain ratings compared with those with intercondylar and medial lesions. This study highlights the importance of central sensitization as an important manifestation in knee OA.
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              Prediction of chronic post-operative pain: pre-operative DNIC testing identifies patients at risk.

              Surgical and medical procedures, mainly those associated with nerve injuries, may lead to chronic persistent pain. Currently, one cannot predict which patients undergoing such procedures are 'at risk' to develop chronic pain. We hypothesized that the endogenous analgesia system is key to determining the pattern of handling noxious events, and therefore testing diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) will predict susceptibility to develop chronic post-thoracotomy pain (CPTP). Pre-operative psychophysical tests, including DNIC assessment (pain reduction during exposure to another noxious stimulus at remote body area), were conducted in 62 patients, who were followed 29.0+/-16.9 weeks after thoracotomy. Logistic regression revealed that pre-operatively assessed DNIC efficiency and acute post-operative pain intensity were two independent predictors for CPTP. Efficient DNIC predicted lower risk of CPTP, with OR 0.52 (0.33-0.77 95% CI, p=0.0024), i.e., a 10-point numerical pain scale (NPS) reduction halves the chance to develop chronic pain. Higher acute pain intensity indicated OR of 1.80 (1.28-2.77, p=0.0024) predicting nearly a double chance to develop chronic pain for each 10-point increase. The other psychophysical measures, pain thresholds and supra-threshold pain magnitudes, did not predict CPTP. For prediction of acute post-operative pain intensity, DNIC efficiency was not found significant. Effectiveness of the endogenous analgesia system obtained at a pain-free state, therefore, seems to reflect the individual's ability to tackle noxious events, identifying patients 'at risk' to develop post-intervention chronic pain. Applying this diagnostic approach before procedures that might generate pain may allow individually tailored pain prevention and management, which may substantially reduce suffering.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                European Journal of Pain
                Eur J Pain
                Wiley-Blackwell
                10903801
                February 2018
                February 05 2018
                : 22
                : 2
                : 216-241
                Article
                10.1002/ejp.1140
                29105941
                © 2018

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