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See detailBlood pressure and the perception of illusive pain
Scheuren, Raymonde UL; Duschek, Stefan; Schulz, André UL et al

in Psychophysiology (2016), 53(8), 1282-1291

Numerous studies have documented an inverse relationship between blood pressure and sensitivity to experimental nociceptive stimulation. The present study aimed to investigate possible associations ... [more ▼]

Numerous studies have documented an inverse relationship between blood pressure and sensitivity to experimental nociceptive stimulation. The present study aimed to investigate possible associations between blood pressure and the occurrence and intensity of paradoxical pain induced by the thermal grill paradigm. Thirty-one healthy subjects were stimulated three times for 1 minute with the non-noxious temperatures of 15°C and 41°C set at the interlaced cold and warm bars of a water bath-driven thermal grill. Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded concomitantly. On account of previous observations of an association between the sensitivity of the cardiac baroreflex and pain perception, this parameter was additionally obtained. Numerical rating scales were used to quantify subjective pain intensity and pain unpleasantness; subjects were classified as responders and non-responders to thermal grill stimulation based on pain intensity ratings. Responders exhibited lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than non-responders, and inverse linear associations arose between blood pressure and pain intensity and unpleasantness. Baroreflex sensitivity was unrelated to pain ratings. The findings confirmed the hypothesis of a blood pressure dependence of paradoxical pain and support the notion that the cardiovascular and pain regulatory systems interact not only in the processing of pain elicited by noxious input, but also in non-noxiously generated illusive pain. While this finding is not consistent with the assumption of an involvement of the baroreflex system in mediating the observed interaction, psychological traits and neurochemical factors are alternatively considered. [less ▲]

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See detailInter-individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity and the perception of the thermal grill illusion of pain
Scheuren, Raymonde UL; Duschek, Stefan; Schulz, André UL et al

Speeches/Talks (2015)

Background: Evidence has been given that there exists a functional relationship between the cardiovascular and the pain regulatory system. Alterations in blood pressure and concomitant changes in ... [more ▼]

Background: Evidence has been given that there exists a functional relationship between the cardiovascular and the pain regulatory system. Alterations in blood pressure and concomitant changes in baroreceptor activation contribute to the modulation of pain sensitivity It could be shown that blood pressure, baroreflex sensitivity, and cardiac vagal tone (indexed by heart rate variability, HRV) are inversely associated to pain sensitivity. We aimed assessing the same cardiovascular parameters in a thermal grill paradigm to test the assumption of a relationship between inter-individual differences in autonomic cardiac control and the perception of the thermal grill illusion of pain (TGI). Methods: All participants (N = 52) were stimulated three times during one minute with the temperatures of 15°C and 41°C set at the interlaced cold and warm bars of the water-bath driven thermal grill. Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded concomitantly. Numerical rating scales (NRS; 0–100) were used to quantify subjective paradoxical pain intensity and pain unpleasantness perceptions. Results: A positive association between cardiac vagal tone and paradoxical pain sensitivity could be revealed. Higher resting HRV, as expressed by higher respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), made it overall more likely to perceive the TGI. In contrast, blood pressure and the susceptibility to the TGI were inversely related. Volunteers displaying higher spontaneous blood pressure values in the first thermal grill stimulation phase did not feel the illusive pain as compared to those who presented significantly lower sympathetic arousal and perceived the TGI. Conclusion: The present physiological findings complement previous evidence of an impact of psychological characteristics on the individual disposition to paradoxical pain perceptions. [less ▲]

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See detailRelationship between cardiovascular reactivity and the perception of the thermal grill illusion of pain
Scheuren, Raymonde UL; Duschek, Stefan; Schulz, André UL et al

Poster (2015, September 03)

Alterations in blood pressure (BP) and concomitant changes in baroreceptor activation contribute to the modulation of pain sensitivity to warrant homeostatic regulation processes [1][2]. Numerous pain ... [more ▼]

Alterations in blood pressure (BP) and concomitant changes in baroreceptor activation contribute to the modulation of pain sensitivity to warrant homeostatic regulation processes [1][2]. Numerous pain studies have described an inverse relationship between BP and nociceptive sensitivity [3][4][5]. It is not known whether a similar relationship plays a role in the framework of the induction of pain in the absence of noxious stimulation. The thermal grill (TG) paradigm is commonly used to trigger this type of paradoxical pain also termed thermal grill illusion of pain (TGI). The goal of the present study was to explore the relationship between cardiovascular activity/reactivity and paradoxical pain sensitivity to get additional insight in the variability of responsiveness (responders and non-responders) to TG stimulation described in the literature [6][7]. We hypothesized that higher BP would be associated with stronger pain inhibitory effects in participants not perceiving the thermal grill illusion of pain (TGI). We moreover expected that the perception of paradoxical pain in the responder group would be paired with lower BP. We tested this hypothesis by comparing both groups with respect to their spontaneous cardiovascular activity (recorded in resting conditions) and their cardiovascular responses to TG stimulation. [less ▲]

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