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Pain. 2002 Sep;99(1-2):41-7.

Sensory dysfunction in burning mouth syndrome.

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Department of Oral Diseases, Turku University Central Hospital, Lemminkäisenkatu 2, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland.


Our preliminary observations on a small group of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) patients indicated a change in the non-nociceptive, tactile sensory function in BMS and provided evidence for the hypothesis of a neuropathic etiology of BMS. In the present clinical study on a group of 52 BMS patients, we used quantitative sensory tests (QST) in addition to the blink reflex (BR) recordings in order to gain further insight into the neural mechanisms of BMS pain. Based on electrophysiologic findings, the BMS patients could be grouped into four different categories: (1) The results of the BR were suggestive of brainstem pathology or peripheral trigeminal neuropathy in ten (19%) patients. In most of the cases, the abnormalities in the BR seemed to represent subclinical changes of the trigeminal system. (2) Increased excitability of the BR was found in the form of deficient habituation of the R2 component of the BR in 11 (21%) of the patients. Two of these patients also showed signs of warm allodynia in QST. (3) One or more of the sensory thresholds were abnormal indicating thin fiber dysfunction in altogether 35 patients (76%) out of the 46 tested with QST. Thirty-three of these patients showed signs of hypoesthesia. (4) There were only five patients with normal findings in both tests. The present findings with strong evidence for neuropathic background in BMS will hopefully provide insights for new therapeutic strategies.

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