To evaluate the sympathetic dependency of pain behaviors in an animal model of neuropathic pain, the effect of surgical sympathectomy on the mechanical sensitivity of the hindpaw was examined in rats with L5 spinal nerve ligation. Mechanical sensitivity was determined by measuring foot withdrawal thresholds to mechanical stimulation with von Frey filaments applied to the base of the third or fourth toe. Tight ligation of the segmental L5 spinal nerve led to the development of mechanical hypersensitivity in the hindpaw. The effects of 2 different procedures of surgical lumbar sympathectomy on mechanical hypersensitivity were compared, limited (resection of sympathetic chain/ganglia L2 to L4 segments) and extensive (resection of L2 to L6 segments) sympathectomies. Mechanical hypersensitivity produced by L5 spinal nerve ligation was partially but significantly reduced by both sympathectomy procedures. In a separate group of rats, the L5 spinal nerve was ligated while irritating the neighboring L4 spinal nerve. This procedure produced a lesser degree of mechanical hypersensitivity, and subsequent sympathectomy had no effect on these animals. These data suggest that sympathectomy is effective in this model only when the animals show severe mechanical hypersensitivity.
- Mechanical allodynia
- Sympathetically maintained pain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine