Research: WIDERSTROM-NOGA and colle

Listed in Issue 38


WIDERSTROM-NOGA and colleagues, Department of Physiology, Goteborg University, Sweden.investigated the influence of trait anxiety and mood variables upon change in the threshold of tooth pain.



: The authors used 2 similar methods of stimulation, manual acupuncture and low-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (low-TENS). Selected for the study were 21 acupuncture responders who had been treated for long-lasting orofacial muscular pain and naïve to low-TENS. Acupuncture and low-TENS were randomly given during 2 periods separated by a rest interval. Tooth pain thresholds (PT) were measured prior to and following stimulation, using a computerised electrical pulp tester. Trait anxiety and depression were assessed using psychometric forms prior to the experimental session with all patients, and momentary mood was assessed in 10 patients randomly selected using visual analogue scales during and following the two types of stimulation.


Following acupuncture, the group average PT increased significantly, whereas no significant change occurred following low-TENS. Higher trait anxiety scores correlated significantly with low PT increase following low-TENS; higher stress ratings correlated significantly with a low PT increase following acupuncture.


The results of this study suggest that the magnitude of pain-relief induced by acupuncture and low-TENS may be subject to modification by psychological factors including anxiety and stress.


Widerstrom-Noga et al. Pain threshold responses to two different modes of sensory stimulation in patients with orofacial muscular pain: psychological considerations. J Orofac Pain 12(1): 27-34 Winter 1998.

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