Group differences in touch and pain thresholds-and their neural correlates-were studied in women with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD; N = 15), a common subtype of vulvodynia (chronic vulvar pain), and pain-free control women (N = 15). Results from quantitative sensory testing and self-report measures indicated that, as compared with control participants, women with PVD exhibited allodynia (ie, pain in response to a normally nonpainful stimulus) and hyperalgesia (ie, an increased response to a normally painful stimulus) at vulvar and nonvulvar sites. In addition, brain imaging analyses demonstrated reduced difference scores between touch and pain in the S2 area in women with PVD compared with control participants, supporting previous findings of allodynia in women with PVD. There were no significant reductions in difference scores between touch and pain for regions related to cognitive and affective processing of painful stimuli. The results of this study contribute important information to the general pain and vulvodynia literatures in elucidating the specific sensorimotor neural mechanisms that underlie hyperalgesia in a chronic pain population. These results have implications for differentiating neural processing of touch and pain for women with and without PVD. Future research should attempt to examine alterations related to hyperalgesia in commonly comorbid conditions of PVD.
January 31, 2020
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