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scientific articles

Safety and Utility of Quantitative Sensory Testing among Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: Indicators of Neuropathic Pain?

key information

source: Pain Practice

year: 2016

authors: Ezenwa MO, Molokie RE, Wang ZJ, Yao Y, Suarez ML, Pullum C, Schlaeger JM, Fillingim RB, Wilkie DJ


Pain is the hallmark symptom of sickle cell disease (SCD), yet the types of pain that these patients experience, and the underlying mechanisms, have not been well characterized. The study purpose was to determine the safety and utility of a mechanical and thermal quantitative sensory testing (QST) protocol and the feasibility of utilizing neuropathic pain questionnaires among adults with SCD.

A convenience sample (N = 25, 18 women, mean age 38.5 ± 12.5 [20-58 years]) completed self-report pain and quality-of-life tools. Subjects also underwent testing with the TSA-II NeuroSensory Analyzer and calibrated von Frey microfilaments.

We found that the QST protocol was safe and did not stimulate a SCD pain crisis. There was evidence of central sensitization (n = 15), peripheral sensitization (n = 1), a mix of central and peripheral sensitization (n = 8), or no sensitization (n = 1). The neuropathic pain self-report tools were feasible with evidence of construct validity; 40% of the subjects reported S-LANSS scores that were indicative of neuropathic pain and had evidence of central, peripheral or mixed sensitization.

The QST protocol can be safely conducted in adults with SCD and provides evidence of central or peripheral sensitization, which is consistent with a neuropathic component to SCD pain. These findings are novel, warrant a larger confirmatory study, and indicate the need for normative QST data from African American adults and older adults.

organization: University of Illinois at Chicago; Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago; Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, University of Florida

DOI: 10.1111/papr.12279

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