Animal models of chronic pain: Advances and challenges for clinical translation

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jun;95(6):1242-1256. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23768. Epub 2016 Jul 4.


Chronic pain is a global problem that has reached epidemic proportions. An estimated 20% of adults suffer from pain, and another 10% are diagnosed with chronic pain each year (Goldberg and McGee, ). Despite the high prevalence of chronic pain (an estimated 1.5 billion people are afflicted worldwide), much remains to be understood about the underlying causes of this condition, and there is an urgent requirement for better pain therapies. The discovery of novel targets and the development of better analgesics rely on an assortment of preclinical animal models; however, there are major challenges to translating discoveries made in animal models to realized pain therapies in humans. This review discusses common animal models used to recapitulate clinical chronic pain conditions (such as neuropathic, inflammatory, and visceral pain) and the methods for assessing the sensory and affective components of pain in animals. We also discuss the advantages and limitations of modeling chronic pain in animals as well as highlighting strategies for improving the predictive validity of preclinical pain studies. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: animal models; chronic pain; pain.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical*


  • Analgesics