Somatosensory assessment and conditioned pain modulation in temporomandibular disorders pain patients

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Abstract

The pathophysiology and underlying pain mechanisms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are poorly understood. The aims were to assess somatosensory function at the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and to examine whether conditioned pain modulation (CPM) differs between TMD pain patients (n = 34) and healthy controls (n = 34). Quantitative sensory testing was used to assess the somatosensory function. Z-scores were calculated for patients based on reference data. Conditioned pain modulation was tested by comparing pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) before, during, and after the application of painful and nonpainful cold stimuli. Pressure pain thresholds were measured at the most painful TMJ and thenar muscle (control). Data were analyzed with analyses of variance. Most (85.3%) of the patients exhibited at least 1 or more somatosensory abnormalities at the most painful TMJ with somatosensory gain with regard to PPT and punctate mechanical pain stimuli, and somatosensory loss with regard to mechanical detection and vibration detection stimuli as the most frequent abnormalities. There was a significant CPM effect (increased PPT) at both test sites during painful cold application in healthy controls and patients (P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the relative CPM effect during painful cold application between groups (P = 0.227). In conclusion, somatosensory abnormalities were commonly detected in TMD pain patients and CPM effects were similar in TMD pain patients and healthy controls.

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