Generalized and symptom-specific sensitization of chronic itch and pain.
until further notice
SourceJEADV : Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 21, 9, (2007), pp. 1187-92
Article / Letter to editor
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JEADV : Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
SubjectDCN 1: Perception and Action; EBP 1: Determinants in health and disease; EBP 1: Determinants of Health and Disease; EBP 2: Effective Hospital Care; N4i 4: Auto-immunity, transplantation and immunotherapy; NCEBP 2: Evaluation of complex medical interventions; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health; NCEBP 8: Psychological determinants of chronic illness; UMCN 3.3: Neurosensory disorders; UMCN 4.2: Chronic inflammation and autoimmunity
BACKGROUND: Physicians are frequently confronted with patients reporting severe itch and pain. Particularly in patients suffering from persistent itch and pain, central and peripheral sensitization processes are assumed to be involved in the long-term maintenance and aggravation of the symptoms. The present study explores generalized and symptom-specific sensitization processes in patients suffering from persistent itch and pain. Specifically, it examines whether patients with chronic itch and pain are more sensitive to somatosensory stimuli (generalized sensitization) and simultaneously perceive somatosensory stimuli as a symptom of their main physical complaint, e.g. pain in chronic pain patients (symptom-specific sensitization). METHODS: Thresholds for different mechanical and electrical sensory stimuli of Quantitative Sensory Testing were determined in 15 female patients suffering from chronic itch associated with atopic dermatitis, 15 female chronic pain patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and 19 female healthy controls. Intensities of itch and pain sensations were rated on a visual analogue scale. RESULTS: As expected, the patient groups had significantly lower tolerance thresholds for the somatosensory stimuli applied than the healthy controls, supporting generalized sensitization. Moreover, patients with chronic itch consistently reported more itch, while patients with chronic pain partly reported more pain in response to analogous somatosensory stimuli than the healthy controls and the other patient group, indicating symptom-specific sensitization. CONCLUSION: The present study provides preliminary support that both generalized and symptom-specific sensitization processes play a role in the regulation and processing of somatosensory stimulation of patients with chronic itch and pain.
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