Background Although evidence suggests that dopaminergic systems are involved in pain processing, the effects of dopaminergic interventions on pain remains questionable. This randomized, double blinded, placebo-controlled, cross-over study was aimed at exploring the effect of the dopamine agonist apomorphine on experimental pain evoked by cold stimulation and on spontaneous pain in patients with lumbar radicular (neuropathic) pain. Methods Data was collected from 35 patients with chronic lumbar radiculopathy (18 men, mean age 56.2±13 years). The following parameters were evaluated before (baseline) and 30, 75 and 120 minutes subsequent to a subcutaneous injection of 1.5 mg apomorphine or placebo: cold pain threshold and tolerance in the painful site (ice pack, affected leg) and in a remote non-painful site (12C water bath, hand), and spontaneous (affected leg) pain intensity (NPS, 0–100). Results One-hundred and twenty minutes following apomorphine (but not placebo) injection, cold pain threshold and tolerance in the hand increased significantly compared to baseline (from a median of 8.0 seconds (IQR = 5.0) to 10 seconds (IQR = 9.0), p = 0.001 and from a median of 19.5 seconds (IQR = 30.2) to 27.0 seconds (IQR = 37.5), p<0.001, respectively). In addition, apomorphine prolonged cold pain tolerance but not threshold in the painful site (from a median of 43.0 seconds (IQR = 63.0) at baseline to 51.0 seconds (IQR = 78.0) at 120 min, p = 0.02). Apomorphine demonstrated no superiority over placebo in reducing spontaneous pain intensity. Conclusion These findings are in line with previous results in healthy subjects, showing that apomorphine increases the ability to tolerate cold pain and therefore suggesting that dopaminergic interventions can have potential clinical relevance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) no 529-10. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
© 2018 Haddad et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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