Inflammation-induced decrease in voluntary wheel running in mice: a nonreflexive test for evaluating inflammatory pain and analgesia

Pain. 2012 Apr;153(4):876-884. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.01.016. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


Inflammatory pain impacts adversely on the quality of life of patients, often resulting in motor disabilities. Therefore, we studied the effect of peripheral inflammation induced by intraplantar administration of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) in mice on a particular form of voluntary locomotion, wheel running, as an index of mobility impairment produced by pain. The distance traveled over 1 hour of free access to activity wheels decreased significantly in response to hind paw inflammation, peaking 24 hours after CFA administration. Recovery of voluntary wheel running by day 3 correlated with the ability to support weight on the inflamed limb. Inflammation-induced mechanical hypersensitivity, measured with von Frey hairs, lasted considerably longer than the impaired voluntary wheel running and is not driving; therefore, the change in voluntary behavior. The CFA-induced decrease in voluntary wheel running was dose-dependently reversed by subcutaneous administration of antiinflammatory and analgesic drugs, including naproxen (10-80 mg/kg), ibuprofen (2.5-20mg/kg), diclofenac (1.25-10mg/kg), celecoxib (2.5-20mg/kg), prednisolone (0.62-5mg/kg), and morphine (0.06-0.5mg/kg), all at much lower doses than reported in most rodent models. Furthermore, the doses that induced recovery in voluntary wheel running did not reduce CFA-induced mechanical allodynia, indicating a greater sensitivity of the former as a surrogate measure of inflammatory pain. We conclude that monitoring changes in voluntary wheel running in mice during peripheral inflammation is a simple, observer-independent objective measure of functional changes produced by inflammation, likely more aligned to the global level of pain than reflexive measures, and much more sensitive to analgesic drug effects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Edema / diagnosis*
  • Edema / pathology
  • Edema / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / pathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / standards*
  • Running / physiology*


  • Analgesics