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New life for an old idea: Assessing tonic heat pain by means of participant controlled temperature


Jutzeler, Catherine R; Sirucek, Laura; Scheuren, Paulina S; Bobo, Tong; Anenberg, Eitan; Ortiz, Oscar; Rosner, Jan; Hubli, Michèle; Kramer, John L K (2019). New life for an old idea: Assessing tonic heat pain by means of participant controlled temperature. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 321:20-27.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Temporal changes of pain perception to prolonged tonic heat pain are conventionally assessed using a computerized visual analog scale. Such a rating-based approach is, however, prone to floor and ceiling effects, which limit the assessment of temporal changes in perception. Thus, alternative methods that overcome these shortcomings are warranted.
NEW METHOD The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility and reliability of a psychophysical approach, i.e., participant-controlled temperature (PCT), to evaluate ongoing human perception of tonic heat pain. Fifty participants were presented with a 45 °C stimulus on the non-dominant hand, and were instructed to maintain their initial sensation for two minutes via a feedback controller in the dominant hand. A subset of participants (n = 17) performed PCT tonic heat protocols on two different days to determine the test-retest reliability. As participants controlled temperature to maintain a stable pain perception, any adjustments made reflected shifts in their perception of heat.
RESULTS In 33 (71.7%) participants, we observed an initial adaptation (participant increased temperature) followed by temporal summation of pain (participant decreased temperature). Twelve participants (26.1%) showed only adaptation and one (2.2%) only temporal summation. No sex differences were observed, nor did the initial rating of pain have an effect on PCT outcomes. Temporal summation of pain showed moderate to substantial reliability upon retest.
CONCLUSIONS PCT represents can be reliably performed using a contact heat stimulator to measure the temporal summation of pain. The standardized setup and overall good reliability of the outcome measures facilitate a sound implementation into the clinical work-up of patients with pain conditions.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Temporal changes of pain perception to prolonged tonic heat pain are conventionally assessed using a computerized visual analog scale. Such a rating-based approach is, however, prone to floor and ceiling effects, which limit the assessment of temporal changes in perception. Thus, alternative methods that overcome these shortcomings are warranted.
NEW METHOD The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility and reliability of a psychophysical approach, i.e., participant-controlled temperature (PCT), to evaluate ongoing human perception of tonic heat pain. Fifty participants were presented with a 45 °C stimulus on the non-dominant hand, and were instructed to maintain their initial sensation for two minutes via a feedback controller in the dominant hand. A subset of participants (n = 17) performed PCT tonic heat protocols on two different days to determine the test-retest reliability. As participants controlled temperature to maintain a stable pain perception, any adjustments made reflected shifts in their perception of heat.
RESULTS In 33 (71.7%) participants, we observed an initial adaptation (participant increased temperature) followed by temporal summation of pain (participant decreased temperature). Twelve participants (26.1%) showed only adaptation and one (2.2%) only temporal summation. No sex differences were observed, nor did the initial rating of pain have an effect on PCT outcomes. Temporal summation of pain showed moderate to substantial reliability upon retest.
CONCLUSIONS PCT represents can be reliably performed using a contact heat stimulator to measure the temporal summation of pain. The standardized setup and overall good reliability of the outcome measures facilitate a sound implementation into the clinical work-up of patients with pain conditions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1 June 2019
Deposited On:20 Jun 2019 06:13
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:36
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0165-0270
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.04.003
PubMed ID:30959080

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