Many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) develop central neuropathic pain (CP). In the present study somatosensory abnormalities have been analysed in detail in 62 patients with MS and CP (42 women, 20 men; mean age 52 years) and in a control group of 10 women and 6 men (mean age 47 years) with MS and sensory symptoms, but without pain.
Assessment included clinical testing and quantitative methods (QST) for the measurement of perception thresholds for touch, vibration, and temperatures.
All CP patients except two (97%) had abnormal thresholds for innoxious and/or noxious temperatures, compared to 81% in the control group (p < 0.05). There was a tendency towards the opposite regarding sensibility to touch, which was decreased in 66% vs. 87% (n.s.), vibration (55% vs. 81%; n.s.) and to joint movement (32% vs. 62%; p < 0.04).
Comparisons between painful and non-painful regions showed both the absolute threshold values and the index values to be significantly more abnormal, in the CP regions, for warmth (p < 0.001), cold (p < 0.05), difference limen (innoxious warmth and cold, p < 0.01), cold pain (p < 0.01) and heat pain/cold pain combined (p < 0.001).
Also the comparisons between regions with central pain and regions with sensory symptoms in the controls showed significantly more abnormal thresholds in the CP patients for warmth (p < 0.05), cold (p < 0.01), difference limen (innoxious warmth and cold, p < 0.01) and heat pain/cold pain combined (p < 0.001).
The results support the general hypothesis that only patients who have lesions affecting the spinothalamo-cortical pathways run the risk of developing central pain.
2010. Vol. 14, no 1, 104-110 p.
Multiple sclerosis, Central neuropathic pain, Sensibility, Quantitative sensory test (QST)