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J Pain. 2013 Jun;14(6):579-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.01.767. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Augmented central pain processing in vulvodynia.

Author information

1
Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA. jhampson@med.umich.edu

Abstract

Vulvodynia (VVD) is a chronic pain disorder wherein women display sensitivity to evoked stimuli at the vulva and/or spontaneous vulvar pain. Our previous work suggests generalized hyperalgesia in this population; however, little is known about central neurobiological factors that may influence pain in VVD. Here we investigated local (vulvar) and remote (thumb) pressure-evoked pain processing in 24 VVD patients compared to 13 age-matched, pain-free healthy controls (HCs). As a positive control we also examined thumb pressure pain in 24 fibromyalgia patients. The VVD and fibromyalgia patients displayed overlapping insular brain activations that were greater than HCs in response to thumb stimulation (P < .005 corrected). Compared to HCs, VVD participants displayed greater levels of activation during thumb stimulation within the insula, dorsal midcingulate, posterior cingulate, and thalamus (P < .005 corrected). Significant differences between VVD subgroups (primary versus secondary and provoked versus unprovoked) were seen within the posterior cingulate with thumb stimulation and within the precuneus region with vulvar stimulation (provoked versus unprovoked only). The augmented brain activation in VVD patients in response to a stimulus remote from the vulva suggests central neural pathology in this disorder. Moreover, differing central activity between VVD subgroups suggests heterogeneous pathologies within this diagnosis.

PERSPECTIVE:

The presence of augmented brain responses to pressure stimuli remote from the vulva was observed in vulvodynia patients. These findings may guide treatment decisions for better response, as brain mechanisms may be a factor in some VVD patients.

PMID:
23578957
PMCID:
PMC3672331
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpain.2013.01.767
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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