A novel human surrogate model of noninjurious sharp mechanical pain

Pain. 2016 Jan;157(1):214-224. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000352.


We propose a blade as a noninjurious nociceptive stimulus modeling sharp mechanical pain and yielding acute pain and hyperalgesia responses with closer proximity to incision-induced pain/hyperalgesia than punctate or blunt pressure mechanical pain models. Twenty-six healthy men and women were investigated to compare a small incision in the left forearm with noninvasive stimuli of different shapes and modalities to the right forearm. The magnitude and time course of incisional and blade-induced pain were assessed by numerical rating scales. Affective vs sensory components of pain experience were differentiated using a pain sensation questionnaire. The magnitude and time course of the axon reflex vasodilator response and of secondary hyperalgesia following a 7-second blade application were assessed. The maximum blade or incisional pain was similar (visual analogue scale [mean ± SD]: 32.9 ± 22.5 [blade] vs. 33.6 ± 29.8 [incision]), and both time courses matched closely in the first 10 seconds (paired t test; P = 0.5-1.0), whereas incision but not blade was followed by a second phase of pain, probably related to the tissue injury (decrease to half maximum pain 8 ± 2 vs. 33 ± 35 seconds; P < 0.01). Affective pain scores were significantly lower than sensory scores for all stimuli (P < 0.001). Comparing blade and incision, patterns of affective and sensory pain descriptors exhibited a remarkably similar pattern. Hence, we suggest the blade as novel model of sharp mechanical pain, which will be useful in investigating postoperative/mechanical pain and the role of self-injurious behavior in, eg, patients with borderline personality disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology*
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Young Adult