Background & aims: Psychosensory stimulation increases the perception of stimuli in different regions of the human colon. The aim of this study was to determine the perception of pain and gas during distention of two colonic regions in healthy volunteers during stress and relaxation.
Methods: In 22 healthy subjects, phasic distentions of transverse and sigmoid colon were performed using infinitely compliant balloons, and symptoms were measured before and during one of three randomized treatments: sham or active relaxation or mental stress. Anxiety ratings and somatic cold-pain sensitivity were included in a multivariate regression model.
Results: Mental stress increased levels of anxiety (P < 0.05) and the sensation of gas (P < 0.01), but not pain (P = NS), during transverse colon distentions and the sensations of gas and pain during sigmoid distentions (P < 0.05). Active relaxation reduced only sensation of gas in the sigmoid colon. Somatic pain sensitivity and pretreatment colonic sensory scores were significantly associated with the sensory scores during treatments.
Conclusions: Psychosensory stimulation increases colonic sensation during short-term distention in two regions of the human colon; relaxation alone exerts a smaller influence on sensations arising in the sigmoid colon.