Segmental spinal nerve ligation model of neuropathic pain

Methods Mol Med. 2004;99:35-45. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-770-X:035.


Since its introduction in 1992, the spinal nerve ligation (SNL) model of neuropathic pain has been widely used for various investigative works on neuropathic pain mechanisms as well as in screening tests for the development of new analgesic drugs. This model was developed by tightly ligating one (L5) or two (L5 and L6) segmental spinal nerves in the rat. The operation results in long-lasting behavioral signs of mechanical allodynia, heat hyperalgesia, cold allodynia, and ongoing pain. In the process of widespread usage, however, many different variations of the SNL model have been produced, either intentionally or unintentionally, by different investigators. Although the factors that cause these variations themselves are interesting and important topics to be studied, the pain mechanisms involved in these variations are likely different from the original model. Therefore, this chapter describes, in detail, the method for producing the spinal nerve ligation model that will minimally induce potential factors that may contribute to these variations. It is hoped that this description will help many investigators to produce a consistent animal model with uniform pathophysiological mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Species Specificity
  • Spinal Nerves / injuries*