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Trigeminal Central Sensitization

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Several orofacial pain conditions can present diagnostic and management challenges to the clinician. This is especially the situation for chronic pain cases because the etiology and pathogenesis are unknown or at least not well understood for most of these chronic conditions. However, recent research in animals and humans has revealed a mechanism in the central nervous system that may represent a common thread in the development and maintenance of many of these pain conditions. This mechanism has been termed “central sensitization” and will be the focus of this review article within the framework of the trigeminal system. The article first provides an organizational and conceptual framework for the reader by giving an overview of current knowledge of the trigeminal nociceptive pathways and their organization and neuronal features. Next, an outline is provided of findings bearing on the expression of central sensitization in the trigeminal system. The article concludes by pointing out some of the clinical implications of the findings.
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Keywords: Central sensitization; Chronic pain; Orofacial pain; Trigeminal nociceptive pathways

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Dentistry and Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: 01 February 2005

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  • Reviews in Analgesia (formerly Analgesia) is an international journal that publishes in English original reviews by experts on topics related to the basic mechanisms and therapeutics of pain relief. Reviews are invited that focus on pain mechanisms, endogenous mediators of pain, mechanisms of analgesia, and the synthesis, testing, or mechanism of action study of known or experimental analgesic compounds-including nonanalgesic and side effect endpoints and abuse liability. In addition, reviews of clinical studies or practice are invited that help elucidate the mechanism of action of known analgesic drugs, or that report on the use of experimental compounds or combinations. Reviews on new or standard methodological approaches, statistical analyses, and theoretical or mathematical treatments are also invited.
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