[Central pain processing and Parkinson's disease. Epidemiology, physiology, and experimental results issuing pain processing]

J A Priebe, P Rieckmann, S Lautenbacher
Der Schmerz 2012, 26 (6): 647-54
Parkinson's disease (PD) is caused by degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) and a resulting dysfunction of the nigrostriatal pathways including the basal ganglia. Beside motor symptoms, different types of pain (e.g., dystonic musculoskeletal pain or central pain) occur in a considerable number of patients. In addition, abnormalities in pain processing have been observed in PD patients, which may present as increased pain sensitivity. The pathophysiological mechanisms involved in disturbed pain processing of PD, however, are still poorly understood. The present article gives an overview of the relevant experimental studies, investigating the abnormalities of pain processing in PD by means of electrophysiological [electroencephalography (EEG), sympathetic skin response (SSR)] and psychophysical methods [quantitative sensory testing (QST), RIII reflex threshold]. Based on a review of the literature, it is postulated that dysfunction in endogenous pain inhibition caused by dopaminergic deficiency in the basal ganglia, especially in the striatum, but also in mesolimbic areas is a main pathophysiological mechanism involved in nociceptive abnormalities in PD.

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