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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Nov 2019 - 29 Nov 2019

Human Studies

2019 Oct 05


Assessing peripheral fibers, pain sensitivity, central sensitization, and descending inhibition in Native Americans: main findings from the Oklahoma Study of Native American Pain Risk.


Rhudy JL, Lannon EW, Kuhn BL, Palit S, Payne MF, Sturycz CA, Hellman N, Güereca YM, Toledo TA, Huber F, Demuth MJ, Hahn BJ, Chaney JM, Shadlow JO
Pain. 2019 Oct 05.
PMID: 31764394.


Native Americans (NAs) have a higher prevalence of chronic pain than other U.S. racial/ethnic groups, but there have been few attempts to understand the mechanisms of this pain disparity. This study used a comprehensive battery of laboratory tasks to assess peripheral fiber function (cool/warm detection thresholds), pain sensitivity (eg, thresholds/tolerances), central sensitization (eg, temporal summation), and pain inhibition (conditioned pain modulation) in healthy, pain-free adults (N = 155 NAs, N = 150 non-Hispanic Whites [NHWs]). Multiple pain stimulus modalities were used (eg, cold, heat, pressure, ischemic, and electric), and subjective (eg, pain ratings and pain tolerance) and physiological (eg, nociceptive flexion reflex) outcomes were measured. There were no group differences on any measure, except that NAs had lower cold-pressor pain thresholds and tolerances, indicating greater pain sensitivity than NHWs. These findings suggest that there are no group differences between healthy NAs and NHWs on peripheral fiber function, central sensitization, or central pain inhibition, but NAs may have greater sensitivity to cold pain. Future studies are needed to examine potential within-group factors that might contribute to NA pain risk.