Drop homotopic effects of masseter-muscle pain

Current pain classifications use 1.0-kg palpation of the masseter muscle to distinguish between “pain patients” and “healthy controls” but a thorough understanding of the normal physiological responses to various somatosensory stimuli is lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate somatosensory function of the skin over the masseter muscle in healthy participants that were divided into a masseter pain prone group (MPP) (n = 22) and non-MPP group (n = 22), according to the response to a 1.0-kg palpation. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) was performed at the skin above the right masseter muscle (homotopic). In an additional experiment, 13 individuals each from MPP and non-MPP received application of 60% topical lidocaine tape to the skin over the masseter muscle for 30 min. Immediately after, mechanical pain sensitivity (MPS), dynamic mechanical allodynia, and pressure pain threshold were tested.


Fig: Flowchart of the main experiment procedure and the additional experiment procedure.

Homotopic MPS was significantly higher and PPTs significantly lower in MPP than in N-MPP (P < 0.05). Strikingly, no other differences in QST outcomes were observed between the groups (P > 0.05). After lidocaine application, no significant differences in homotopic MPS were observed between groups. The presence or absence of acute provoked pain in masseter muscle is exclusively associated with differences in homotopic MPS which is decreased following topical anesthesia.

Hayakawa, H., Iida, T., Honda-Sakaki, M. et al. Drop homotopic effects of masseter-muscle pain on somatosensory sensitivity in healthy participants. Sci Rep 11, 10575 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89937-3

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