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Somatosensory Profiling of Patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome and Correlations with Psychologic Factors

Guangju Yang, PhD/Sha Su, DDS/Huifei Jie, PhD/Lene Baad-Hansen, PhD/Kelun Wang, PhD/Shudong Yan, DDS/Hongwei Liu, PhD/Qiu-Fei Xie, PhD/Peter Svensson, PhD


PMID: 30893407
DOI: 10.11607/ofph.2358

Aims: To compare somatosensory function profiles and psychologic factors in patients with primary burning mouth syndrome (BMS) and healthy controls and to evaluate correlations of subjective pain ratings with somatosensory and psychologic parameters. Methods: A quantitative sensory testing (QST) protocol—including cold detection threshold (CDT), warmth detection threshold (WDT), thermal sensory limen (TSL), paradoxical heat sensation (PHS), cold pain threshold (CPT), heat pain threshold (HPT), mechanical pain threshold (MPT), wind-up ratio (WUR), and pressure pain threshold (PPT)—was performed at the oral mucosa of the tongue, buccal, and palatal sites in 30 Chinese patients (25 women and 5 men, mean age 50.9 ± 9.2 years) with primary BMS and in 18 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (15 women and 3 men, mean age 53.2 ± 7.0 years). For each BMS patient, z scores and loss/gain scores were computed. Psychologic status was evaluated in both groups using the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Depression Scale. Correlations of BMS patients’ subjective pain ratings with somatosensory and psychologic profiles were assessed with the use of Pearson or Spearman correlations and multiple linear regression. Results: In BMS patients, 53.3% had somatosensory abnormalities according to z scores vs 22.2% of healthy controls (P = .033). The abnormalities in BMS patients were somatosensory loss to thermal nonnoxious stimuli (TSL = 20.0%, CDT = 13.3%, WDT = 13.3%), mechanical pressure stimuli (PPT = 16.7%), pinprick stimuli (MPT = 6.7%), and thermal pain stimuli (CPT = 3.3%), and somatosensory gain to repetitive pinprick stimuli (WUR = 6.7%), pressure stimuli (PPT = 6.7%), and thermal pain stimuli (HPT = 3.3%). The most frequent loss/gain score was 13.3% for loss of thermal somatosensory function with no somatosensory gain; 13.3% for loss of thermal and mechanical somatosensory function with no somatosensory gain; and 13.3% for gain of mechanical somatosensory function with no somatosensory loss. Mild elevations in anxiety scores were seen in 30% of the BMS patients, and 50% and 36.7% had mild and moderate elevations, respectively, in depression scores. No anxiety or depression was detected in the control group. QST results, but not psychologic scores, were significantly correlated with patients’ subjective pain ratings (PHS, Spearman coefficient –0.384, P = .029; CPT, Pearson coefficient –0.370, P = .034; MPT, Pearson coefficient –0.376, P = .032; PPT, Pearson coefficient 0.363, P = .037). Conclusion: The present findings documented distinct differences in somatosensory function in patients with primary BMS compared to controls, indicating a complex pathophysiology and interaction between impairments in nociceptive processing and psychologic functioning.


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