Mechanosensation and pain

J Neurobiol. 2004 Oct;61(1):30-44. doi: 10.1002/neu.20078.


The ability of cells to detect and transduce mechanical stimuli impinging on them is a fundamental process that underlies normal cell growth, hearing, balance, touch, and pain. Surprisingly, little research has focused on mechanotransduction as it relates to the sensations of somatic touch and pain. In this article we will review data on the wealth of different mechanosensitive sensory neurons that innervate our main somatic sense organ the skin. The role of different types of mechanosensitive sensory neurons in pain under physiological and pathophysiological conditions (allodynia and hyperalgesia) will also be reviewed. Finally, recent work on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which mechanoreceptive sensory neurons signal both innocuous and noxious sensation is evaluated in the context of pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mechanoreceptors / metabolism*
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Pain Measurement / methods