Sensory functions in chronic neuralgia.
Eleven patients with sustained neuralgia, in most cases after traumatic nerve lesion, were subjected to quantitative sensory testing with thermal and non-noxious mechanical stimuli. Measurements were made in the pain area and at a homologous site on the contralateral normal side. All patients were hypoaesthetic with raised thresholds for warm and cold or touch, or both. Thermal pain thresholds were also raised in some patients but lowered in others indicating hypersensitivity of the nociceptor system or dysaesthesia for thermal input. In six patients single mechanical stimuli produced a painful response above the touch detection threshold. Reaction time measurements indicated that this painful response to suprathreshold mechanical pulses was measured by magnitude estimation as a function of stimulus amplitude. The results were fitted by power functions, as in normal skin, but with steeper slopes on the abnormal side. Suprathreshold hyperaesthesia (recruitment) may exist in the presence of normal threshold functioning.