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Behav Neurosci. 2014 Oct;128(5):625-32. doi: 10.1037/bne0000004. Epub 2014 Jun 9.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) improves decreased physical activity induced by nerve injury.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Sergipe.
  • 2Medtronic.
  • 3Department of Biology, Universidade Federal do Tri├óngulo Mineiro.
  • 4Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Iowa.


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used to manage treatment of neuropathic pain to reduce pain and hyperalgesia and to improve activity. Prior studies using animal models of neuropathic pain have shown that SCS reduces hyperalgesia; however, it is unclear whether SCS affects physical activity. Therefore, we tested whether nerve injury (spared nerve injury [SNI] model) reduced physical activity levels, and whether SCS could restore these decreased activity levels. We tested whether SCS given over a long duration (6 hr daily for 3 months) remained effective. We compared SNI with uninjured controls over 4 weeks, and SNI with sham SCS with SNI with active SCS (4 or 60 Hz at 90% motor threshold). We confirmed the presence of mechanical hyperalgesia by examining mechanical thresholds of the paw with von Frey filaments. Physical activity levels were monitored over 30 min in an automated activity chamber as follows: overall activity, distance traveled, grooming behaviors, and rearing. Measures were taken during SCS every 1-2 weeks for 3 months. Animals with SNI (and no or sham SCS) showed decreased withdrawal thresholds ipsilaterally and reduced physical activity (rearing, distance, lines crossed) for 3 months. Both 4- and 60-Hz SCS increased paw withdrawal threshold during and immediately after SCS through 3 months. Both 4- and 60-Hz SCS increased the overall activity (lines crossed), distance traveled, and rearing, but not grooming behaviors for 3 months. This effect remained similar across the 3 months. Thus, measurement of spontaneous physical activity could be useful to examine nocifensive behaviors after nerve injury and is sensitive to SCS.

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