Dorsal root ganglion neurones with dichotomising afferent fibres to both the lumbar disc and the groin skin. A possible neuronal mechanism underlying referred groin pain in lower lumbar disc diseases

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2003 May;85(4):600-3. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.85b4.13306.


Dorsal root ganglion neurones with dichotomising axons are present in several species and are considered to play a role in referred pain. Clinically, patients with lesions in the lower lumbar discs occasionally complain of pain in the groin. We investigated the existence of dichotomising afferent neurones projecting axons both to the lumbar disc and to the groin skin, using the double fluorescent-labelling technique in rats. We observed neurones labelled with a tracer applied at the ventral portion of the LS-L6 disc and another tracer placed on the groin skin in L1 and L2 dorsal root ganglia. Our results showed that the double-labelled neurones had peripheral axons which dichotomised into both the LS-L6 disc and the groin skin, indicating the convergence of afferent sensory information from the disc and groin skin. Our findings provide a possible neuroanatomical mechanism for referred groin pain in patients with disc lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Ganglia, Spinal / anatomy & histology*
  • Groin / innervation*
  • Intervertebral Disc / innervation*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Neurons, Afferent
  • Pain / etiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley