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Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2001 Apr;5(2):107-13.

Quantitative assessment of neuropathic pain.

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Department of Oral and Craniofacial Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Dental School, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Quantitative sensory testing (QST) refers to a group of protocols that allows for quantitative measures of somesthetic function. Several protocols evaluate perceptual threshold, whereas others evaluate perception of stimuli above threshold. Each protocol has its own advantages and disadvantages, but one must always weigh a trade-off between accuracy (with longer protocols) and expediency (with shorter protocols). In assessing patients with neuropathic pain, one is interested in both positive and negative sensory symptoms. QST studies, using either neuropathic pain patients or healthy volunteers who have been rendered temporarily hyperalgesic, have demonstrated that pain abnormalities can be modality specific. The fact that various pain abnormalities can exist independently of each other suggests that (at least partially) different neuropathologic processes are responsible for each one. Current research suggests that both peripheral sensitization and central sensitization play a role in these abnormal pain conditions, and identification of precise neuropathologic mechanisms is under active investigation.

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