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EXPERIMENTAL PRESSURE PAIN IN PATIENTS WITH COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME, TYPE I (REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY)

J. A. Vatine(1), J. Tsenter(1) and R. Nirel(2)

(1) Mt. Scopus Hadassa Medical Center
(2) Department of Statistics The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

September 1998

ABSTRACT

The aim of the present investigation was to examine if pressure algometry can identify a specific pain sensitivity profile in patients with complex regional pain syndrome, and to distinguish complex regional pain syndromes from other chronic pain dysfunction syndromes. Pressure pain threshold and pain tolerance measured at the sternum in 17 patients with complex regional pain syndrome, Type I (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), were compared with values obtained in 13 patients suffering from other chronic pain dysfunction syndromes and in a control group of 24 pain-free volunteers.

The difference between threshold and tolerance was defined as the pain sensitivity range. Young patients with complex regional pain syndrome (<40 yr) demonstrated a significantly higher mean pain sensitivity range compared with young subjects who had chronic pain or who were pain-free. Mean threshold and tolerance values were significantly lower in patients with complex regional pain syndrome (2.7 +/- 1.0 kg (mean +/- standard deviation) and 5.4 +/- 2.0 kg, respectively) and in patients suffering from other chronic pain syndromes (2.6 +/- 1.1 and 4.6 +/- 1.7 kg) than in healthy subjects (5.4 +/- 2.3 and 8.4 +/- 2.6 kg). Women in the chronic pain group exhibited a significantly lower pressure pain threshold than all other subgroups. Regardless of group, women exhibited lower pressure pain tolerance than men. In conclusion, the study contained herein shows a specific pain sensitivity profile to experimental stimuli behavior in young patients with complex regional pain syndrome expressed by a large pressure pain sensitivity range, at a location away from the painful area. However, one single pressure pain measurement over the sternum is insufficient for differentiation of patients with complex regional pain syndrome from those with chronic pain because of intersubject variation.

 

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