Central neuropathic pain is well known in multiple sclerosis (MS), but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. In the present study we studied sensory function in MS patients with pain, MS patients without pain and healthy subjects in order to clarify the role of sensory abnormalities in pain. Fifty MS patients with pain were randomly recruited from a previous epidemiological MS study in Aarhus County, Denmark. Age and gender stratified MS patients without pain (N=50) and healthy subjects (N=50) served as controls. Patients with pain underwent a structured pain interview. Sensory function was examined by bedside and quantitative sensory testing. Quality of life was assessed using the health-related quality of life questionnaire, SF-36. Patients with pain had lower pressure pain threshold than pain-free patients (260 kPa vs. 322 (median), P=0.02) otherwise quantitative sensory testing was similar. Pain patients more frequently had cold allodynia (9/50 vs. 0/50, P=0.003) and abnormal temporal summation (10/48 vs. 3/49, P=0.03). Fifty-eight percent had central pain. Central pain patients did not differ from musculoskeletal pain patients in quantitative sensory testing, but allodynia was more common in MS patients with central pain. Pain patients scored lower in all dimensions of SF-36 compared with pain-free patients and healthy subjects. The results suggest that pain in MS is central in more than half of the patients and is associated with mechanical or thermal hyperalgesia. © 2005 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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