Numerous qualitative and quantitative techniques can be used to test sensory nerves and pain in both research and clinical settings. The current study demonstrates a quantitative sensory testing protocol using techniques to measure tactile sensation and pain threshold for pressure and heat using portable and easily accessed equipment. These techniques and equipment are ideal for new laboratories and clinics where cost is a concern or a limiting factor. The authors demonstrate measurement techniques for the following: cutaneous mechanical sensitivity on the arms and legs (von-Frey filaments), radiant and contact heat sensitivity (with both threshold and qualitative assessments using the Visual Analog Scale (VAS)), and mechanical pressure sensitivity (algometer, with both threshold and the VAS). The techniques and equipment described and demonstrated here can be easily purchased, stored, and transported by most clinics and research laboratories around the world. A limitation of this approach is a lack of automation or computer control. Thus, these processes can be more labor intensive in terms of personnel training and data recording than the more sophisticated equipment. They provide a set of reliability data for the demonstrated techniques.
From their description, a new laboratory should be able to set up and run these tests and to develop their own internal reliability data.