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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Nov 2019 - 22 Nov 2019

Human Studies

2020 Sep - Oct

J Pain



Sensitivities to Thermal and Mechanical Stimuli: Adults with Sickle Cell Disease Compared to Healthy, Pain-free African American Controls.


Molokie RE, Wang ZJ, Yao Y, Powell-Roach KL, Schlaeger JM, Suarez ML, Shuey DA, Angulo V, Carrasco J, Ezenwa MO, Fillingim RB, Wilkie DJ
J Pain. 2020 Sep - Oct; 21(9-10):957-967.
PMID: 31733363.


Evidence supports but is inconclusive that sensitization contributes to chronic pain in some adults with sickle cell disease (SCD). We determined the prevalence of pain sensitization among adults with SCD pain compared with pain-free healthy adults. In a cross sectional, single session study of 186 African American outpatients with SCD pain (age 18-74 years, 59% female) and 124 healthy age, gender, and race matched control subjects (age 18-69 years, 49% female), we compared responses to standard thermal (Medoc TSA II) and mechanical stimuli (von Frey filaments). Although we observed no significant differences in thermal thresholds between controls and patients, patients with SCD had lower pain thresholds to mechanical stimuli and reported higher pain intensity scores to all thermal and mechanical stimuli at a non-painful body site. Compared with controls, about twice as many patients with SCD showed sensitization: 12% versus 23% at the anterior forearm site (p=.02), and 16% versus 32% across three tested sites (p=.004). Among patients with SCD, 18% exhibited some element of central sensitization. Findings indicate that persistent allodynia and hyperalgesia can be part of the SCD pain experience and should be considered when selecting therapies for SCD pain. Perspective: Compared with matched healthy controls, quantitative sensory testing in adults with pain and sickle cell disease (SCD) demonstrates higher prevalence of sensitization, including central sensitization. The findings of allodynia and hyperalgesia may indicate neuropathic pain and could contribute to a paradigm shift in assessment and treatment of SCD pain.