Journal of Neural Transmission | 2019
Co-occurrence of pain syndromes
Many pain conditions in patients tend to co-occur, influencing the clinical expressions of each other in various ways. This paper summarizes the main concurrent pain conditions by analyzing the major interactions observed. In particular, co-occurrence will be examined in: visceral pain (especially ischemic heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea/endometriosis and urinary pain), fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain and headache. Two concurrent visceral pains from internal organs sharing at least part of their central sensory projection can give rise to viscero-visceral hyperalgesia, i.e., enhancement of typical pain symptoms from both districts. Visceral pain, headache and musculoskeletal pains (myofascial pain from trigger points, joint pain) can enhance pain and hyperalgesia from fibromyalgia. Myofascial pain from trigger points can perpetuate pain symptoms from visceral pain conditions and trigger migraine attacks when located in the referred pain area from an internal organ or in cervico-facial areas, respectively. The pathophysiology of these pain associations is complex and probably multifactorial; among the possible processes underlying the mutual influence of symptoms recorded in the associations is modulation of central sensitization phenomena by nociceptive inputs from one or the other condition. A strong message in these pain syndrome co-occurrence is that effective treatment of one of the conditions can also improve symptoms from the other, thus suggesting a systematic and thorough evaluation of the pain patient for a global effective management of his/her suffering.