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Tactile, thermal, and electrical thresholds in patients with and without phantom limb pain after traumatic lower limb amputation

Authors Li S, Melton D, Li S

Received 12 November 2014

Accepted for publication 19 December 2014

Published 20 April 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 169—174


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Shengai Li,1,2 Danielle H Melton,1,2 Sheng Li1,2

1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX, USA; 2Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory, TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center, Houston, TX, USA

Purpose: To examine whether there is central sensitization in patients with phantom limb pain (PLP) after traumatic limb amputation.
Methods: Seventeen patients after unilateral lower limb amputation secondary to trauma were enrolled. Ten patients had chronic PLP, while the other seven patients had no PLP. Tactile-sensation threshold, cold- and warm-sensation thresholds, cold- and heat-pain thresholds, electrical-sensation threshold (EST), and electrical-pain threshold on the distal residual limb and the symmetrical site on the sound limb were measured in all tested patients. Their thresholds were compared within the PLP and non-PLP group, and between the groups.
Results: The novel findings included: 1) electrical-pain threshold was only decreased in the sound limb in the PLP group and there was no difference between two limbs in the non-PLP group, suggesting central sensitization in patients with PLP; and 2) EST was increased on the affected limb as compared to the sound limb within the PLP group, but there were no significant differences in EST between the PLP and non-PLP group. There were in general no significant differences in other tested thresholds within the groups and between groups.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate central sensitization in the patients with PLP after traumatic limb amputation.

Keywords: central sensitization, pain threshold, human

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