Departmental Papers (BE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

April 2004


There is much evidence supporting the hypothesis that magnitude of nerve root mechanical injury affects the nature of the physiological responses which can contribute to pain in lumbar radiculopathy. Specifically, injury magnitude has been shown to modulate behavioral hypersensitivity responses in animal models of radiculopathy. However, no study has determined the mechanical deformation thresholds for initiation and maintenance of the behavioral sensitivity in these models. Therefore, it was the purpose of this study to quantify the effects of mechanical and chemical contributions at injury on behavioral outcomes and to determine mechanical thresholds for pain onset and persistence. Male Holtzman rats received either a silk or chromic gut ligation of the L5 nerve roots, a sham exposure of the nerve roots, or a chromic exposure in which no mechanical deformation was applied but chromic gut material was placed on the roots. Using image analysis, nerve root radial strains were estimated at the time of injury. Behavioral hypersensitivity was assessed by measuring mechanical allodynia continuously throughout the study. Chromic gut ligations produced allodynia responses for nerve root strains at two-thirds of the magnitudes of those strains which produced the corresponding behaviors for silk ligation. Thresholds for nerve root compression producing the onset (8.4%) and persistence of pain (17.4-22.2%) were determined for silk ligation in this lumbar radiculopathy model. Such mechanical thresholds for behavioral sensitivity in a painful radiculopathy model begin to provide biomechanical data which may have utility in broader experimental and computational models for relating injury biomechanics and physiologic responses of pain.


Postprint version. Published in Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Volume 126, Issue 2, April 2004, pages 258-263.
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radiculopathy, nociception, nerve root, biomechanics, strain



Date Posted: 11 November 2004

This document has been peer reviewed.