Assessment of experimental orofacial pain, pleasantness and unpleasantness via standardized psychophysical testing

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Background: Somatosensory assessment within the orofacial region may be performed using highly standardized quantitative sensory testing (QST). However, the function of the C-tactile (CT) afferent, a nerve fibre linked to the perception of pleasant touch, is usually not evaluated. Furthermore, the perception of unpleasantness is also rarely assessed, a dimension not only limited to a painful experience. Therefore, the primary aim was to apply standardized QST stimuli as well as standardized pleasant stimuli and evaluate their potential capacity for evocation of perceived pain, pleasant and unpleasant sensations in the facial region. Methods: Twenty-one female participants underwent QST as per the protocol derived from the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain. For the first time, two modified protocols were used to investigate stimuli for perceived pleasantness and unpleasantness. Results: Thermal stimuli provided separate thresholds for each sensation. From certain mechanical stimuli (e.g., vibration), overlap between the perceived sensations of pleasantness and unpleasantness was identified. It was not possible to evoke only an unpleasant sensation without a painful contribution, and both these sensations increased significantly when utilizing an increasing pinprick force (p < 0.011). Between dynamic stimuli, the brush was rated as significantly more pleasant than the cotton wool tip (p = 0.015). A quadratic model provided the best fit for velocity against mean pleasantness ratings (R2 = 0.62 ± 0.08), supporting previous CT afferent literature to some extent. Conclusion: Stimuli were generally not isolated to one sensation, highlighting the multidimensional construct of stimulus perception and the need for scales to capture this. Significance: The battery of QST tests from the DFNS protocol has been modified to investigate pleasant and unpleasant sensations. This allows the evaluation of psychophysical properties across standardized dimensions to provide a thorough view of somatosensory function and to better understand the affective spectrum of somatosensory function.

TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
Sider (fra-til)1297-1308
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2019

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