Author(s): Lobbezoo F, Tanguay R, Thon MT, Lavigne GJ
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Abstract Cervical spinal pain is frequently found in conjunction with idiopathic cervical dystonia (ICD), a focal dystonia characterized by sustained deviation of the head. Since the perception of noxious stimuli has never been studied in ICD, we performed a controlled study to obtain more insight into the psychophysics of dystonia-related muscle pain by evaluating pressure-induced pain levels. In nine ICD patients and five gender- and age-matched asymptomatic control subjects, pain-pressure thresholds (PPTs) were determined in the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius muscles, both at resting activity and at maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). The masseter muscles served as non-pathological control regions. To determine the accuracy of PPT values, pain intensity and unpleasantness were rated at threshold on 100-mm visual analogue scales. Four replication measurements were obtained. The data were analyzed by multilevel procedures. For all muscles under investigation, average PPTs of the ICD patients were about two times lower than those of the control subjects (P < 0.001-0.0005) and showed a smaller intra-subject variance. Further, average PPTs at MVC were about two times higher than those at resting activity (P < 0.005). These results provide psychophysical evidence to suggest that, at controlled levels of muscle contraction, the threshold of pain perception is decreased in ICD. In addition, ICD patients seem to be better able to establish their own PPTs than control subjects, which might be due to a different setting of the discriminative aspect of pain in ICD. Surprisingly, lower intensity and unpleasantness scores were found in ICD patients with coinciding painful and deviated sides than in ICD patients for whom the painful side was opposite to the deviated one (P < 0.05). This finding might be of clinical importance for defining functional disability and predicting treatment outcome.
This article was published in Pain
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy