Acupuncture treatment is one of the most desirable choices for the management of pain including chronic visceral pain, but its scientific evidence and laws of action are not very clear at this point. In this study, we examined the immediate and cumulative effects of electro-acupuncture (EA) on chronic visceral pain induced by colorectal distention (CRD) stimuli in rats using an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) model (a chronic visceral hypersensitivity model). The results demonstrated that EA could significantly depress both abnormally increased abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores and the magnitude of electromyograms (EMGs) recorded from the rectus abdominis in response to CRD stimulation at strengths of 20, 40, 60, and 80 mmHg. Repeated EA treatment for 14 days showed that the effects of EA on both abnormal AWRs and EMGs appeared 2-4 days after the start of the EA application session, gradually enhanced to its maximum within 8-12 days, and lasted 5 days after EA treatment stopped. These data provide evidence that visceral pain associated with the rat IBS model can be effectively treated by EA and opens up the possibility of clinical treatment of chronic visceral pain with acupuncture.
- Abdominal withdrawal reflex
- Chronic visceral hyperalgesia
- Colorectal distention stimulation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Rectus abdominis muscle
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