Investigators defined 2 somatosensory profiles among young adult patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). One profile exhibited similar sensory thresholds as healthy controls (HCs), and the second exhibited an increased pain threshold and experienced higher pain intensity and more severe IBS symptoms.

The cluster analysis study, which was published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, reviewed data from 80 patients with IBS and 21 age-matched HCs from a randomized clinical trial in order to evaluate the IBS population’s peripheral sensory profiles.

The participants performed quantitative sensory testing and IBS pain and symptom assessments at baseline and at 6 and 12 weeks during follow-up. Based on the k-means method, the study’s authors identified 2 clusters, which they termed the IBS normal threshold (IBS-NT) and the IBS increased threshold (IBS-IT).

While patients with the IBS-NT somatosensory profile had pain thresholds comparable to HCs, the researchers observed that patients in the IBS-IT cluster had increased somatic pain perception thresholds, including lower cold pain thresholds, higher heat pain thresholds, and higher pressure pain thresholds (P<.001). Additionally, the IBS-IT profile patients reported increased IBS-related pain, intensity, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disturbance at all 3 assessment timepoints (P<.05).

Given the results, the research group suggested that somatic sensory profiles be used to further individualize self-management strategies among young adult patients with IBS.

Reference: Chen J, Zhang Y, Barandouzi ZA, et al. Somatosensory profiles differentiate pain and psychophysiological symptoms among young adults with irritable bowel syndrome: A cluster analysis. Clin J Pain. 2022;38(7):492-501. doi:10.1097/AJP.0000000000001046