OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of central sensitization, elicited by intramuscular injection of capsaicin, by comparing the reflex receptive fields (RRF) of spinally-intact volunteers and spinal cord injured volunteers that present presensitized spinal nociceptive mechanisms. METHODS: Fifteen volunteers with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) and fourteen non-injured (NI) volunteers participated in the experiment. Repeated electrical stimulation was applied on eight sites on the foot sole to elicit the nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR). RRF were assessed before, 1min after and 60min after an intramuscular injection of capsaicin in the foot sole in order to induce central sensitization. RESULTS: Both groups presented RRF expansion and lowered NWR thresholds immediately after capsaicin injection, reflected by the enlargement of RRF sensitivity areas and RRF probability areas. Moreover, the topography of the RRF sensitivity and probability areas were significantly different in SCI volunteers compared to NI volunteers in terms of size and shape. CONCLUSIONS: SCI volunteers can develop central sensitization, despite adaptive/maladaptive changes in synaptic plasticity and lack of supraspinal control. SIGNIFICANCE: Protective plastic mechanisms may still be functional in SCI volunteers.
Clinical Neurophysiology, 2014, Vol 125, Issue 2, p. 352-362
Journal Article; Adult; Aged; Capsaicin; Central Nervous System Sensitization; Electric Stimulation; Electromyography; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Nociceptors; Pain Measurement; Pain Threshold; Reflex; Sensory System Agents; Spinal Cord Injuries