An Improved Method for Assessing Mechanical Allodynia in the Rat

Physiol Behav. 1999 Nov;67(5):711-6. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(99)00136-5.


A method has been developed for assessing mechanical nociceptive threshold and allodynia in the rat. The animal was habituated to stand on its hind paws while leaning against an experimenter's hand. The rat was unrestrained, but remained in the position throughout the test session. The Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments were used to probe body areas such as the lateral edge of the hind paw and the orofacial skin. The median withdrawal response threshold was found to be 62.9 g for both hind paws (95 % confidence interval, CL, 61.4-66.7 g, n = 69). The median response thresholds of the orofacial skin were 62.9 g (95% CL: 55.7-68.7 g, n = 45), and 25.6 g (95% CL: 22.6-36.3 g, n = 45), for the skin above the temporomandibular joint (PT) and the perioral (PO) skin, respectively. The injection of an inflammatory agent, complete Freund's adjuvant, into the hind paw, peritemporomandibular joint tissue (PTMJ), or PO skin resulted in significant mechanical allodynia. The median response thresholds were reduced to 0.09 g (p < 0.01, n = 6), 5.60 g (p < 0.001, n = 9), and 3.24 g (p < 0.001, n = 9), after hind paw, PTMJ, and PO inflammation, respectively. The allodynia persisted for at least 2 weeks in all cases. This testing paradigm eliminates confounding factors related to weight bearing, and offers a simple, objective, and reliable approach to assess mechanical sensitivity in rats. The method will be useful for studying the central mechanisms of mechanical allodynia. Importantly, this method can also be used in the orofacial region, and will facilitate studies on the mechanisms of persistent orofacial pain in animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Face / physiology
  • Foot / innervation
  • Foot / physiology
  • Freund's Adjuvant
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain Measurement / instrumentation
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Physical Stimulation / methods*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Freund's Adjuvant