JOURNAL ARTICLE

The relationship between somatic and emotional stimuli: a comparison between adolescents with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and a control group

Kerstin Wahlund, Thomas List, Richard Ohrbach
European Journal of Pain: EJP 2005, 9 (2): 219-27
15737814
The overall purpose of this study was to determine whether adolescents with chronic temporomandibular disorder (TMD) pain are more sensitive to all types of somatic and emotional stimuli compared with a matched healthy control group. Sixty adolescents, 8 boys and 52 girls ranging from 12 to 18 years, participated in the study. Thirty of the subjects exhibited TMD, reporting pain of at least 3 months duration. The age- and gender-matched control group consisted of 30 dental recall patients who reported TMD pain less than once a week. All participants completed a 40-item questionnaire comprising 10 items each of pleasant and aversive qualities crossed with somatic and emotional forms of stimuli. The items, a selection of a broad range of familiar stimuli by a panel of experts, were rated based on intensity of experience (0-10, numerical rating scale). Well-fitting items that formed a valid construct within each of the four domains were selected using Rasch analysis. The results showed that adolescents with TMD pain reported significantly greater sensitivity (p<0.05) to aversive somatic and pleasant somatic stimuli than the controls. The differences between groups for the aversive emotional and pleasant emotional stimuli were non-significant. These findings suggest that chronic TMD pain states in adolescents are accompanied by amplification of bodily, but not purely emotional stimuli and that cognitive systems are implicated, not only an alteration of the nociceptive systems.

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