Modulatory influence on somatosensory perception from vibration and heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation (HNCS) in fibromyalgia patients and healthy subjects

E Kosek, P Hansson
Pain 1997, 70 (1): 41-51
In order to assess the function of endogenous mechanisms modulating somatosensory input in fibromyalgia (FM), the effect of vibratory stimulation (VS) and heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation (HNCS) on perception of various somatosensory modalities was assessed. Ten female FM patients and 10 healthy, age-matched, females participated. VS (100 Hz) was applied to the left forearm for 45 min and quantitative sensory testing (QST) was performed within the vibrated area and in the right thigh before, during and 45 min following vibration. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were assessed by pressure algometry. Perception thresholds to non-painful cold (CT) and warmth (WT), heat pain thresholds (HPTs), cold pain thresholds (CPTs) and stimulus-response curves of pain intensity as a function of graded nociceptive heat stimulation were assessed using a Peltier element based thermal stimulator. The effects of HNCS were tested using the upper extremity submaximal effort tourniquet test. Subjects rated tourniquet induced pain intensity on a visual analogue scale (VAS). QST was performed in the right thigh before, during and 60 min following the tourniquet. FM patients did not differ from controls in the response to VS. There was a local increase of PPTs during vibration (P < 0.001) and of WTs following vibration (P < 0.001). HPTs increased in the forearm and in the thigh (P < 0.009) during vibration. CTs and sensitivity to suprathreshold heat pain were not influenced by VS. The intensity of pain induced by the tourniquet did not differ between groups. PPTs increased during the tourniquet in controls (P < 0.001) but not in FM patients (difference between groups P < 0.001). Decreased sensitivity to non-painful cold (P < 0.001) and non-painful warmth (P < 0.001) was seen during and following (P < 0.001; P < 0.05, respectively) the tourniquet in both groups alike. HPTs and perception of suprathreshold heat pain remained unaffected in both groups. In conclusion, FM patients did not differ from healthy controls in their response to vibration, but no modulation of pressure pain was induced by HNCS, as opposed to controls, suggesting a dysfunction in systems subserving 'diffuse noxious inhibitory controls' (DNIC).

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