Sensory Over-Responsiveness among Healthy Subjects is Associated with a Pronociceptive State

Irit Weissman-Fogel, Yelena Granovsky, Tami Bar-Shalita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Chronic pain patients show hypersensitivity to sensory nonpainful stimuli. Sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) to innocuous daily stimuli, experienced as painful, is prevalent in 10% of the healthy population. This altered sensory processing may be an expression of overfacilitation, or a less efficient pain-inhibitory process in the pain pathways. We therefore aimed to investigate specifically the pain-inhibitory system of subjects with SOR who are otherwise healthy, not studied as of yet. Methods: Thirty healthy subjects, divided into an SOR group (n = 14) and a non-SOR group (n = 16) based on responses to the Sensory Responsiveness Questionnaire, were psychophysically tested in order to evaluate (1) hyperalgesic responses; (2) adaptation/sensitization to 14 phasic heat stimuli; (3) habituation; (4) 6-minute after-sensations; and (5) conditioned pain modulation (CPM) (ie, phasic heat stimuli applied with and without hand immersion in a hot water bath). Results: The SOR group differed from the non-SOR group in (1) a steeper escalation in NPS ratings to temperature increase (P = 0.003), indicating hyperalgesia; (2) increased sensitization (P < 0.001); (3) habituation responses (P < 0.001); (4) enhanced pain ratings during the after-sensation (P = 0.006); and (5) no group difference was found in CPM. Conclusions: SOR is associated with a pronociceptive state, expressed by amplification of experimental pain, yet with sufficient inhibitory processes. Our results support previous findings of enhanced facilitation of pain-transmitting pathways but also reveal preserved inhibitory mechanisms, although they were slower to react.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-486
Number of pages14
JournalPain Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 World Institute of Pain


  • pain modulation
  • pain perception
  • pronociception
  • sensory modulation dysfunction
  • sensory over-responsiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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