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Pain Med. 2015 Oct;16(10):1930-42. doi: 10.1111/pme.12769. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Autonomic, Behavioral, and Subjective Pain Responses in Alzheimer's Disease.

Author information

1
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, DO/PhD Training Program, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
2
Michigan State University Neuroscience Program, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
3
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
4
Michigan State University Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare autonomic, behavioral, and subjective pain responses of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) to those of healthy seniors (HS). As few studies have examined patients with severe Alzheimer's disease (sAD), we emphasized inclusion of these patients together with mild/moderate Alzheimer's disease (mAD) patients to characterize pain responses potentially affected by disease severity.

DESIGN:

A controlled cross-sectional study involving repeated measures behavioral pain testing.

SETTING:

An outpatient clinical setting and local nursing facilities.

SUBJECTS:

Community dwelling HS controls (N = 33) and individuals with chart-confirmed diagnoses of AD (N = 38, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV criteria).

METHODS:

HS and AD groups were compared in their responses to repeated applications of five pressure intensities (1-5 kg) on the distal forearm. Autonomic responses (heart rate [HR]), pain behaviors (vocal, facial, and bodily as scored by the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia [PAINAD] scale), and subjective pain ratings (Faces Pain Scale-Revised) were measured.

RESULTS:

HR responses to pressure stimuli were differentially affected based on AD severity: sAD patients had generally decreased HR reactivity compared with other groups (P < 0.01). In contrast, pain behaviors were increased in AD regardless of severity (P < 0.001), compared with HS, for all but the lowest pressure intensity. Increased behaviors occurred in all measured domains of the PAINAD (P < 0.005). While sAD were unreliable subjective reporters, mAD patients (N = 17) rated low level pressures as more painful than HS (P < 0.01).

CONCLUSION:

These findings provide behavioral and subjective-report evidence of increased acute pain sensitivity in AD, which should be taken into consideration with respect to pain management across the spectrum of AD severity.

KEYWORDS:

Acute Pain; Alzheimer's Disease; Behavior; Dementia; Elderly

PMID:
25929320
DOI:
10.1111/pme.12769
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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