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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

2024 May 16

Nat Rev Neurol


Editor's Pick

Deciphering nociplastic pain: clinical features, risk factors and potential mechanisms.


Kaplan CM, Kelleher E, Irani A, Schrepf A, Clauw DJ, Harte SE


Nociplastic pain is a mechanistic term used to describe pain that arises or is sustained by altered nociception, despite the absence of tissue damage. Although nociplastic pain has distinct pathophysiology from nociceptive and neuropathic pain, these pain mechanisms often coincide within individuals, which contributes to the intractability of chronic pain. Key symptoms of nociplastic pain include pain in multiple body regions, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, depression and anxiety. Individuals with nociplastic pain are often diffusely tender – indicative of hyperalgesia and/or allodynia – and are often more sensitive than others to non-painful sensory stimuli such as lights, odours and noises. This Review summarizes the risk factors, clinical presentation and treatment of nociplastic pain, and describes how alterations in brain function and structure, immune processing and peripheral factors might contribute to the nociplastic pain phenotype. This article concludes with a discussion of two proposed subtypes of nociplastic pain that reflect distinct neurobiological features and treatment responsivity.