Quantitative Sensory Testing With Von Frey Monofilaments in Patients With Allodynia: What Are We Quantifying?

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The International Association for the Study of Pain defines allodynia as pain due to a stimulus that does not normally provoke pain and hyperalgesia as an increased response to a stimulus, which is normally painful. However, does “normally painful” mean “any stimulation of nociceptors” or “the subjective pain response?” We argue that “normally painful” should not mean “any stimulation of nociceptors,” as Von Frey monofilaments may evoke a pricking sensation—which implies the involvement of nociceptors—without necessarily leading to a subjective pain perception. In this paper, we propose that the diagnosis of either allodynia or hyperalgesia should be based on the patient's report, that is, painful versus not painful, rather than on the (sub) type of afferent fiber involved.

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