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Coexistence of ipsilateral pain-inhibitory and facilitatory processes after high-frequency electrical stimulation

Vo, L.ORCID: 0000-0002-2714-5387 and Drummond, P.D.ORCID: 0000-0002-3711-8737 (2014) Coexistence of ipsilateral pain-inhibitory and facilitatory processes after high-frequency electrical stimulation. European Journal of Pain, 18 (3). pp. 386-385.

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BACKGROUND: High-frequency electrical stimulation (HFS) of the human forearm evokes analgesia to blunt pressure in the ipsilateral forehead, consistent with descending ipsilateral inhibitory pain modulation. The aim of the current study was to further delineate pain modulation processes evoked by HFS by examining sensory changes in the arm and forehead; investigating the effects of HFS on nociceptive blink reflexes elicited by supraorbital electrical stimulation; and assessing effects of counter-irritation (electrically evoked pain at the HFS-conditioned site in the forearm) on nociceptive blink reflexes before and after HFS.
METHODS: Before and after HFS conditioning, sensitivity to heat and to blunt and sharp stimuli was assessed at and adjacent to the conditioned site in the forearm and on each side of the forehead. Nociceptive blink reflexes were also assessed before and after HFS with and without counter-irritation of the forearm.
RESULTS: HFS triggered secondary hyperalgesia in the forearm (a sign of central sensitization) and analgesia to blunt pressure in the ipsilateral forehead. Under most conditions, both HFS conditioning and counter-irritation of the forearm suppressed electrically evoked pain in the forehead, and the amplitude of the blink reflex to supraorbital stimuli decreased. Importantly, however, in the absence of forearm counter-irritation, HFS conditioning facilitated ipsilateral blink reflex amplitude to supraorbital stimuli delivered ipsilateral to the HFS-conditioned site.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that HFS concurrently triggers hemilateral inhibitory and facilitatory influences on nociceptive processing over and above more general effects of counter-irritation. The inhibitory influence may help limit the spread of sensitization in central nociceptive pathways.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: 2012 European Federation of International Association for the Study of Pain Chapters
Notes: Article first published online: 19 JUL 2013
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