Somatosensory profile of a patient with mixed connective tissue disease and Sjögren syndrome

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Journal of the American Dental Association









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BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW: The authors report the case of a patient with mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) and Sjögren syndrome, showing signs and symptoms of bilateral trigeminal neuropathy and aseptic meningitis. The patient was assessed by means of quantitative sensory testing (QST) according to the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain standards, in both the gingiva and forearm, and the results were compared with those of healthy control participants.

CASE DESCRIPTION: A 27-year-old woman, who had received a diagnosis of MCTD and Sjögren syndrome from a rheumatologist, sought treatment at an orofacial pain clinic for bilateral electriclike pain in the maxillary anterior gingiva, eyelids, and cheeks. QST indicated allodynia and hyperalgesia in response to mechanical and thermal stimuli in both her gingiva and forearm, and cold hyperalgesia in her forearm only. She had been prescribed an oral corticosteroid (prednisone, 7 milligrams per day) by the rheumatologist, and was given lidocaine gel and systemic pregabalin (400 mg/d) at the clinic.

CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: The cause of trigeminal neuropathy in MCTD and Sjögren syndrome (SS) is unknown. The QST data in this case showed that the somatosensory disturbance severity was higher in the gingiva than in the forearm, suggesting that the trigeminal nerve may be more susceptible than other parts of the nervous system in patients with MCTD. If reproducible in future studies, the finding of greater hypersensitivity in the gingiva than in the forearm may provide an opportunity for dentists to play a role in the detection, diagnosis, or both of MCTD and SS. Dentists must be sufficiently familiar with MCTD and SS to include them in their differential diagnoses and should consider performing simple neurosensory testing such as via intraoral cotton swab or pinprick test.

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