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Slow brushing reduces heat pain in humans
University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
VA San Francisco Healthcare Syst, CA USA; University of Calif San Francisco, CA 94143 USA.
Harvard Medical Sch, MA USA; University of Oslo, Norway.
Justus Liebig University, Germany.
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2017 (English)In: European Journal of Pain, ISSN 1090-3801, E-ISSN 1532-2149, Vol. 21, no 7, 1173-1185 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: C-tactile (CT) afferents are unmyelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors optimized for signalling affective, gentle touch. In three separate psychophysical experiments, we examined the contribution of CT afferents to pain modulation. Methods: In total, 44 healthy volunteers experienced heat pain and CT optimal (slow brushing) and CT sub-optimal (fast brushing or vibration) stimuli. Three different experimental paradigms were used: Concurrent application of heat pain and tactile (slow brushing or vibration) stimulation; Slow brushing, applied for variable duration and intervals, preceding heat pain; Slow versus fast brushing preceding heat pain. Results: Slow brushing was effective in reducing pain, whereas fast brushing or vibration was not. The reduction in pain was significant not only when the CT optimal touch was applied simultaneously with the painful stimulus but also when the two stimuli were separated in time. For subsequent stimulation, the pain reduction was more pronounced for a shorter time interval between brushing and pain. Likewise, the effect was more robust when pain was preceded by a longer duration of brush stimulation. Strong CT-related pain reduction was associated with low anxiety and high calmness scores obtained by a state anxiety questionnaire. Conclusions: Slow brushing - optimal for CT activation - is effective in reducing pain from cutaneous heating. The precise mechanisms for the pain relief are as yet unknown but possible mechanisms include inhibition of nociceptive projection neurons at the level of the dorsal horn as well as analgesia through cortical mechanisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY , 2017. Vol. 21, no 7, 1173-1185 p.
National Category
Physiotherapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-139904DOI: 10.1002/ejp.1018ISI: 000406872000008PubMedID: 28263013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-139904DiVA: diva2:1135757
Note

Funding Agencies|IASP - Scan|Design Foundation by Inger Jens Bruun; Swedish Research Council; Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation; Swedish Brain Foundation; European Neurological Society; German Research Foundation [Bi 579/1, Bi 579/4]

Available from: 2017-08-24 Created: 2017-08-24 Last updated: 2017-08-24

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Olausson, Håkan
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Center for Social and Affective NeuroscienceFaculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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