San Francisco, CA. (June 1, 2012) Exercise helps to alleviate pain related to nerve damage (neuropathic pain) by reducing levels of certain inflammation-promoting factors, suggests an experimental study in the June issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).
The results support exercise as a potentially useful nondrug treatment for neuropathic pain, and suggest that it may work by reducing inflammation-promoting substances called cytokines. The lead author was Yu-Wen Chen, PhD, of China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Exercise Reduces Nerve Pain and Cytokine Expression in Rats
Neuropathic pain is a common and difficult-to-treat type of pain caused by nerve damage, seen in patients with trauma, diabetes, and other conditions. Phantom limb pain after amputation is an example of neuropathic pain.
Dr Chen and colleagues examined the effects of exercise on neuropathic pain induced by sciatic nerve injury in rats. After nerve injury, some animals performed progressive exerciseeither swimming or treadmill runningover a few weeks. The researchers assessed the effects of exercise on neuropathic pain severity by monitoring observable pain behaviors.
The results suggested significant reductions in neuropathic pain in rats assigned to swimming or treadmill running. Exercise reduced abnormal responses to temperature and pressureboth characteristic of neuropathic pain.
Exercise also led to reduced expression of inflammation-promoting cytokines in sciatic nerve tissuespecifically, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1-beta. That was consistent with previous studies suggesting that inflammation and pro-inflammatory cytokines play a role in the development of neuropathic pain in response to nerve injury.
Exercise also led to increased expression of a protein, called heat shock protein-27, which may have contributed to th
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