Altered interoceptive perception and the effects of interoceptive analgesia in musculoskeletal, primary, and neuropathic chronic pain conditions

Daniele Di Lernia, Giuseppe Riva, Marco Lacerenza, Vivien Ainley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Chronic pain (CP) severely disrupts the daily life of millions. Interoception (i.e., sensing the physiological condition of the body) plays a pivotal role in the aetiology and maintenance of CP. As pain is inherently an interoceptive signal, interoceptive frameworks provide important, but underutilized, approaches to this condition. Here we first investigated three facets of interoceptive perception in CP, compared with pain-free controls. We then introduce a novel interoceptive treatment and demonstrate its capacity to reduce pain severity in CP, potentially providing complementary analgesic treatments. Study 1 measured interoceptive accuracy, confidence and sensibility in patients (N = 60) with primary, secondary musculoskeletal, and neuropathic CP. Compared with matched controls, CP participants exhibited significantly lower interoceptive accuracy and interoceptive confidence. Pain severity was predicted positively by interoceptive accuracy, anxiety and depression, and negatively by interoceptive confidence. Study 2 tested a promising new interoceptive treatment for CP, in a single-blind between-subjects design (N = 51) with primary, secondary musculoskeletal, and neuropathic CP patients. The treatment specifically activates the C-Tactile system, by means of controlled stimulation of interoceptive unmyelinated afferents, at 3 cm/s with a force of 2.5 mN. This treatment led to significant pain reduction (mean 23%) in the CP treatment group after only 11 min, while CP controls who received comparable but non-interoceptive stimulation reported no change in pain intensity. These studies highlight the importance of interoceptive approaches to CP and demonstrate the potential of this novel method of C-Tactile stimulation to provide complementary analgesic treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Anxiety and depression
  • C-Touch
  • Chronic pain
  • Interoception
  • Interoceptive treatment

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