An experimental model to measure excitatory and inhibitory pain mechanisms in humans
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Brain Research (September 2008)PMID: 18652808.

Numerous approaches have been used to induce and measure experimental pain perception with the goal of better understanding excitatory and inhibitory pain mechanisms. In this study, the objective was to develop a simple experimental design which would enable us to elicit and measure multiple nociceptive mechanisms that have been reported to play a role in the development and persistency of chronic pain, such as temporal summation (TS) and diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC). Eighty-three healthy subjects (42 men, 41 women) participated in this study where we examined pain perception of two tonic heat pain stimulation (thermode) separated by a 2 minute cold pressor test (CPT) (7 degrees C, 10 degrees C or 12 degrees C) which allowed us to activate DNIC. The heat pain response was characterized by a peak pain during the first 30 s, which was stronger for women (p = 0.001). We also observed a TS phenomenon during the second minute of stimulation. DNIC's analgesia was assessed by measuring the difference in pain ratings between the two thermode procedures, before and after inducing DNIC by a cold pressure test on the opposite arm. We found that the mean pain ratings and peak pain but not TS were significantly reduced by DNIC. No sex differences were observed in DNIC analgesia. Our experimental pain design allowed us to measure several excitatory and inhibitory pain mechanisms in one experimental session. We were able to separate the effect of DNIC on the peak pain and on TS. This method is simple, sensitive and can easily be used in different population of either healthy subjects or chronic pain patients.
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