Effects of naloxone on dental pain threshold following muscle exercise and low frequency transcutaneous nerve stimulation: a comparative study in man

Acta Physiol Scand. 1986 Feb;126(2):299-305. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1986.tb07818.x.


Previous studies have shown that muscle exercise and low frequency transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TNS) give rise to an analgesic effect in humans and animals. Endorphin has been proposed to mediate this analgesia. In this investigation, the effect of muscle exercise and low frequency TNS, on dental pain thresholds was studied and the possible involvement of endorphinergic mechanisms was investigated using naloxone as an antagonist. Dental pain thresholds were measured in 11 volunteers following leg or arm exercise and after low frequency TNS of the hands or face. After exercise (20 min) or stimulation (30 min) either 0.8 mg naloxone (2 ml) or saline (2 ml) was injected i.v. in a double-blind fashion. Pain thresholds were measured repetitively before and after exercise or stimulation. Both leg and arm exercise increased pain threshold. Stimulation of the hands also increased pain threshold, but less than arm exercise. A marked increase in pain threshold was seen after face stimulation. These changes in pain threshold were unaffected following injections of either naloxone or saline, except for an early and short-lasting reduction when naloxone was injected following arm exercise. The increases in pain threshold following muscle exercise and after low frequency TNS, showed similarities suggesting that a common mechanism might be involved. The pain threshold increase after arm exercise could only be partially mediated by endorphinergic mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Dental*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Naloxone / pharmacology*
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Tooth / innervation*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*


  • Naloxone
  • Sodium Chloride