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Painful heat attenuates electrically induced muscle pain in men and women

Background and purpose: Women exhibit higher prevalence of most painful disorders. Several explanations have been proposed for this discrepancy, one being that endogenous pain modulatory pathways, which affect incoming nociceptive signals, act differently in men and women. A less efficient pain inhibitory system has been proposed as a contributing factor to explain why women exhibit higher prevalence of most painful disorders. The present study determined whether muscle pain, induced experimentally by electrical stimulation, is inhibited by a painful heat stimulus. This conditioned pain modulation (CPM) paradigm was used to determine whether women show signs of reduced inhibition compared to men. Methods: Forty self-reported healthy individuals (20 female, 20 male) participated in a cross-over design with painful and non-painful heat as a conditioning stimulus. Test stimuli were painful intramuscular electrical stimulation of the tibialis anterior muscle at two intensities; low (1.1 × pain threshold) and high (1.6 × pain threshold). Painful conditioning was contact heat (45–49 ° C) to the contralateral forearm. Nonpainful conditioning was contact heat at 35 °C. Ten test stimuli were delivered in three blocks (before, during and after conditioning) in two sessions (painful and non-painful conditioning). The women were tested during days 12-14 of the menstrual cycle....

Gullander, Maria; Knardahl, Stein; Matre, Dagfinn
Scandinavian Journal of Pain 4(2): 103–108
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