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Abstract: Reactivity to superficial and deep stimuli in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain

  [ 168 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
www.ProHealth.com • December 10, 2002


Pain 2002 Dec;100(3):259-69

Carli G, Suman AL, Biasi G, Marcolongo R.

Istituto di Fisiologia Umana and Istituto di Reumatologia, Universita degli Studi, 53100, Siena, Italy

In this study, we evaluated pain sensitivity in patients with fibromyalgia or other types of chronic, diffuse musculoskeletal pain to establish whether fibromyalgia represents the end of a continuum of dysfunction in the nociceptive system.

One hundred and forty five patients and 22 healthy subjects (HS) completed an epidemiological questionnaire to provide information about fatigue, stiffness, sleep, the intensity of pain (VAS 0-100) and its extent both at onset and at present.

Algometry was performed at all American College of Rheumatology (ACR) tender points and at ten control points. Patients were divided into five main groups: fibromyalgia (FS) patients, secondary-concomitant fibromyalgia (SCFS) patients, patients with widespread pain (WP) but not reaching the ACR criterion of 11 tender points, patients with diffuse multiregional pain (MP) not reaching the ACR criteria (widespread pain, tender point counts), and patients with multiregional pain associated with at least 11 tender points (MPTE). von Frey monofilaments were used to assess superficial punctate pressure pain thresholds. Heat and cold pain thresholds were determined with a thermal stimulator. Ischemic pain was assessed by the cold pressure test and the submaximal effort tourniquet test.

The scores for stiffness and present pain intensity gradually increased concomitantly with the increase in tender point count and pain extent. The pressure pain thresholds for positive tender and positive control points were significantly lower in the SCFS, FS and MPTE groups than in HS, MP and WP groups, the latter three groups displaying similar values. In all groups, there were no differences in pain thresholds between positive tender and positive control points.

The heat pain threshold and the pain threshold in the cold pressure test were lower in the FS and SCFS groups than in HS. The cold pressure tolerance was lower in patients with widespread pain than in HS. In the von Frey test, all patient groups except MP had similar values, which were significantly lower than in HS.

Finally, all patient groups displayed lower tourniquet tolerance than HS. In each psychophysical test, patients with widespread pain and patients with multiregional pain showed similar thresholds; however, the thresholds in the MP or MPTE groups differed from those in the FS and SCFS groups.

In the FS group, pain thresholds and pain tolerance did not differ according to the presence of ongoing pain at the stimulated site and were not correlated to ongoing pain. The results indicate that dysfunction in the nociceptive system is already present in patients with multiregional pain with a low tender point count; it becomes more and more severe as the positive tender point count and pain extent increase and it is maximal in fibromyalgia patients.

PMID: 12467997 [PubMed - in process]




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