Background and purpose: In animal studies, enhanced sensitivity to painful stimuli succeeding chronic stress has been reported, while acute stress is reported to induce analgesia. Human studies on the effect of mental stress on pain are more equivocal. A disturbed stress-response resulting in an increased sensitivity to painful stimuli has also been discussed as a potential mechanism for e.g., the fibromyalgia syndrome. Endogenous analgesia may be studied in humans by measuring the analgesic effect of heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation. In neurophysiological animal studies this phenomenon was originally denoted “diffuse noxious inhibitory controls” (DNIC), but for human studies it has been suggested to use the term conditioned pain modulation (CPM). The clinical relevance of aberrances in CPM is not clear. Inhibitory CPM is reported as being reduced in several medically unexplained syndromes with musculoskeletal pain aggravated by mental stress. However, whether the reported reduced CPM effects are causally related to clinical pain is unknown. In the present study the effect of a mental stressor on CPM is studied. Methods: With tourniquet-induced pain as the conditioning stimulus we estimated the CPM effect in twenty healthy subjects. Heat pain threshold (HPT), supra-threshold heat pain level (SHPL) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were used...

Nilsen, Kristian Bernhard; Christiansen, Sunniva Elisabeth; Holmen, Line Berge; Sand, Trond
Scandinavian Journal of Pain 3(3): 142–148
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