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Elevated detection thresholds for mechanical stimuli in chronic pain patients: Support for a central mechanism

  • V.F. Voerman
    Affiliations
    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Foundation Limburg, Hoensbroek (Dr. Voerman); and the Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. van Egmond) and the Pain Centre, Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. Crul), University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • J. van Egmond
    Affiliations
    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Foundation Limburg, Hoensbroek (Dr. Voerman); and the Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. van Egmond) and the Pain Centre, Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. Crul), University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • B.J.P. Crul
    Affiliations
    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Foundation Limburg, Hoensbroek (Dr. Voerman); and the Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. van Egmond) and the Pain Centre, Department of Anesthesiology (Dr. Crul), University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Author Footnotes
    NO LABEL a. Smith and Nephew Nederland B.V., Postbus 525, 2130 AM Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.

      Abstract

      Voerman VF, van Egmond J, Crul BJP. Elevated detection thresholds for mechanical stimuli in chronic pain patients: support for a central mechanism. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2000;81:430-5. Objective: To investigate the relation between pain provoking cervical segments identified by diagnostic dorsal root blockades and elevation of detection thresholds in patients suffering from chronic cervicobrachialgia (CCB). Design: Quantitative sensory testing (light touch) of the cervical dermatomes using Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments. Setting: A university pain clinic. Subjects: Thirty-nine patients with CCB, with no clinical or diagnostic evidence of radiculopathy or surgically treatable bony lesion and with one main pain-provoking cervical segment identified by diagnostic dorsal root blockades. Outcome Measures: Detection thresholds with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of pain-provoking segments, compared with surrounding and contralateral segments and with normal values for cervical dermatomes. Results: Patients' detection thresholds were significantly (p <.001) higher than those for normal subjects: 3.51 (95% CI, 2.71-4.31) and 3.10 (95% CI, 2.34-3.86), respectively. No significant differences existed between the segments. The elevations were systematic. However, thresholds on the painful side were consistently, slightly higher than those on the contralateral side. Conclusion: Supporting earlier studies, results from CCB patients in the present study showed systematic elevation of detection thresholds (low threshold mechanoreceptors), an adaptation in contrast with, but not contradictory to, central sensitization of high threshold neurons in chronic pain. © 2000 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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