Diffuse noxious inhibitory control evoked by tonic craniofacial pain in humans

P. F. Sowman, K. Wang, P. Svensson, L. Arendt-Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Tonic pain in one body segment can inhibit the perception of pain in another body segment. This phenomenon is mediated by diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC), and its efficacy in craniofacial regions is investigated in this study. A compressive device that evoked a tonic, moderate/severe, headache-like, conditioning pain (∼8/10 on a visual analogue scale) was applied for 15 min. Eleven males participated in the study. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) and pressure pain tolerance (PPTol) at multiple heterosegmental body sites (right masseter, splenius capitis, second intermediate phalange, brachioradialis and tibialis anterior) were measured before, during and at multiple time points (5, 20 and 35 min) after the termination of the conditioning pain. PPTs and PPTols were compared within participants across two experimental sessions; one that included painful conditioning stimulation, and a separate control session on a different day. Painful conditioning increased PPT significantly during pain over the masseter (p < 0.05) and over the tibialis anterior (p < 0.01). PPTol was unchanged. In the period after the painful conditioning stimulation PPT was depressed compared to control. This study shows that pain evoked from the craniofacial region evokes DNIC-like mechanisms on segmental as well as heterosegmental sites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-145
    Number of pages7
    JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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