The influence of intensity and duration of a painful conditioning stimulation on conditioned pain modulation in volunteers

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Abstract

Background and Method:

The aim was to investigate influence from variations in intensity of a painful conditioning stimulation (CS) on early (0–6 min) and prolonged (6–12 min) conditioned pain modulation (CPM) in volunteers during concurrent exposure to test stimuli (TS). CS was applied to either forearm using painful heat with an intensity of 2/10 and 5/10, respectively, rated on a 0–10 numerical pain rating scale. At a second session, CS with an intensity of 7/10 was applied to the arm using a tourniquet. Threshold and suprathreshold painful heat and pressure as well as painful repeated monofilament pricking (RMP) were assessed as TS.

Results:

Regardless of TS, there was no significant difference in the magnitude of CPM within the same stimulus modality during the various intensities and phases of the CS. Significant modulation of heat pain thresholds (HPTs) was found during the early phase at 5/10 and 7/10, but not at 2/10. Only at 5/10 the prolonged CS resulted in a significant additional increase in HPT. During the early CS phase, CPM of suprathreshold heat pain was found at 2/10 and 5/10. The prolonged CS resulted in a significant additional temperature increase at 5/10. Only during the early phase significant CPM of pressure pain thresholds were found for all three pain intensities in conjunction with a significant CPM of suprathreshold pressure pain at 5/10. There was no CPM of RMP.

Conclusion:

The CS intensity and the duration of CPM modulated pain sensitivity differentially across TS modalities.

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