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Cerebral responses to innocuous somatic pressure stimulation following aerobic exercise rehabilitation in chronic pain patients: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Authors Micalos PS, Korgaonkar MS, Drinkwater E, Cannon J, Marino F

Received 12 February 2014

Accepted for publication 2 May 2014

Published 26 August 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 425—432


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Peter S Micalos,1 Mayuresh S Korgaonkar,2 Eric J Drinkwater,3 Jack Cannon,3 Frank E Marino3

1School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, 2Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney Medical School, Sydney, 3School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Objective: The purpose of this research was to assess the functional brain activity and perceptual rating of innocuous somatic pressure stimulation before and after exercise rehabilitation in patients with chronic pain.
Materials and methods: Eleven chronic pain patients and eight healthy pain-free controls completed 12 weeks of supervised aerobic exercise intervention. Perceptual rating of standardized somatic pressure stimulation (2 kg) on the right anterior mid-thigh and brain responses during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were assessed at pre- and postexercise rehabilitation.
Results: There was a significant difference in the perceptual rating of innocuous somatic pressure stimulation between the chronic pain and control groups (P=0.02) but no difference following exercise rehabilitation. Whole brain voxel-wise analysis with correction for multiple comparisons revealed trends for differences in fMRI responses between the chronic pain and control groups in the superior temporal gyrus (chronic pain > control, corrected P=0.30), thalamus, and caudate (control > chronic, corrected P=0.23). Repeated measures of the regions of interest (5 mm radius) for blood oxygen level-dependent signal response revealed trend differences for superior temporal gyrus (P=0.06), thalamus (P=0.04), and caudate (P=0.21). Group-by-time interactions revealed trend differences in the caudate (P=0.10) and superior temporal gyrus (P=0.29).
Conclusion: Augmented perceptual and brain responses to innocuous somatic pressure stimulation were shown in the chronic pain group compared to the control group; however, 12-weeks of exercise rehabilitation did not significantly attenuate these responses.

Keywords: fMRI, pain network, central sensitization, BOLD-signal response

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