New insight into the time-course of motor and sensory system changes in pain

Schabrun, Siobhan M., Burns, Emma and Hodges, Paul W. (2015) New insight into the time-course of motor and sensory system changes in pain. PLos One, 10 11: 1-14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142857

Author Schabrun, Siobhan M.
Burns, Emma
Hodges, Paul W.
Title New insight into the time-course of motor and sensory system changes in pain
Journal name PLos One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2015-11-24
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0142857
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 11
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Place of publication San Francisco, CA United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Pain-related interactions between primary motor (M1) and primary sensory (S1) cortex are poorly understood. In particular, the time-course over which S1 processing and corticomotor output are altered in association with muscle pain is unclear. We aimed to examine the temporal profile of altered processing in S1 and altered corticomotor output with finer temporal resolution than has been used previously.


In 10 healthy individuals we recorded somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in separate sessions at multiple time-points before, during and immediately after pain induced by hypertonic saline infusion in a hand muscle, and at 15 and 25 minutes follow-up.


Participants reported an average pain intensity that was less in the session where SEPs were recorded (SEPs: 4.0±1.6; MEPs: 4.9±2.3). In addition, the time taken for pain to return to zero once infusion of hypertonic saline ceased was less for participants in the SEP session (SEPs: 4.7±3.8 mins; MEPs 9.4±7.4 mins). Both SEPs and MEPs began to reduce almost immediately after pain reached 5/10 following hypertonic saline injection and were significantly reduced from baseline by the second (SEPs) and third (MEPs) recording blocks during pain. Both parameters remained suppressed immediately after pain had resolved and at 15 and 25 minutes after the resolution of pain.


These data suggest S1 processing and corticomotor output may be co-modulated in association with muscle pain. Interestingly, this is in contrast to previous observations. This discrepancy may best be explained by an effect of the SEP test stimulus on the corticomotor pathway. This novel finding is critical to consider in experimental design and may be potentially useful to consider as an intervention for the management of pain.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Publications
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