The goals of an international taskforce on somatosensory testing established by the Special Interest Group of Oro-facial Pain (SIG-OFP) under the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) were to (i) review the literature concerning assessment of somatosensory function in the oro-facial region in terms of techniques and test performance, (ii) provide guidelines for comprehensive and screening examination procedures, and (iii) give recommendations for future development of somatosensory testing specifically in the oro-facial region. Numerous qualitative and quantitative psychophysical techniques have been proposed and used in the description of oro-facial somatosensory function. The selection of technique includes time considerations because the most reliable and accurate methods require multiple repetitions of stimuli. Multiple-stimulus modalities (mechanical, thermal, electrical, chemical) have been applied to study oro-facial somatosensory function. A battery of different test stimuli is needed to obtain comprehensive information about the functional integrity of the various types of afferent nerve fibres. Based on the available literature, the German Neuropathic Pain Network test battery appears suitable for the study of somatosensory function within the oro-facial area as it is based on a wide variety of both qualitative and quantitative assessments of all cutaneous somatosensory modalities. Furthermore, these protocols have been thoroughly described and tested on multiple sites including the facial skin and intra-oral mucosa. Standardisation of both comprehensive and screening examination techniques is likely to improve the diagnostic accuracy and facilitate the understanding of neural mechanisms and somatosensory changes in different oro-facial pain conditions and may help to guide management.
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