A new human experimental pain model: the heat/capsaicin sensitization model

Neuroreport. 1999 May 14;10(7):1511-6. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199905140-00022.


The heat/capsaicin sensitization model is a new human experimental pain model that synergistically combines non-invasive physical and chemical methods of nociceptor stimulation to produce stable and long-lasting hyperalgesia with a low potential for skin injury. In 10 healthy volunteers the forearm was stimulated with a 45 degrees C thermode for 5 min to produce an area of secondary hyperalgesia. Applying capsaicin cream for 30 min further expanded the area of secondary hyperalgesia. Periodically heating the treated skin with a previously non-painful temperature of 40 degrees C re-kindled the sensitization enough to maintain stable areas of secondary hyperalgesia for 4h. The evoked pain was moderate and well tolerated. The heat/capsaicin sensitization model should be well suited for studying pain mechanisms and testing new analgesics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Capsaicin / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Reference Values


  • Capsaicin