OBJECTIVES: Offset analgesia (OA) is the phenomenon where the perceived pain intensity to heat stimulation disproportionally decreases after a slight decrease in stimulation temperature. The neural mechanisms of OA are not fully understood, but it appears that both peripheral and central temporal filtering properties are involved. Chemotherapy with oxaliplatin often causes acute peripheral sensory neuropathy, and manifests primarily as a cold induced allodynia. The aim of this exploratory patient study was to investigate if OA was affected by the neurotoxic effects of adjuvant oxaliplatin treatment.
METHODS: OA was assessed in 17 colon cancer patients during 12 cycles of adjuvant oxaliplatin treatment. The OA response was estimated as the decrease in pain intensity caused by a temperature decrease from 46 °C to 45 °C. Changes in the OA during the treatment period was estimated using a mixed linear model and corrected for multiple comparisons by Sidak's test.
RESULTS: OA was increased significantly when assessed before the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 10th treatment cycle compared to the first (baseline) treatment (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: OA is generally decreased in persons suffering from chronic pain or peripheral neuropathy as compared to healthy controls. But in the present study, OA increased during chemotherapy with oxaliplatin. The underlying mechanism of this unexpected increase should be further explored.