The pathophysiology of chronic pain--increased sensitivity to low threshold A beta-fibre inputs

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1994 Aug;4(4):525-34. doi: 10.1016/0959-4388(94)90053-1.


Chronic pain is characterized by abnormal sensitivity, which is due to the generation of pain in response to the activation of the low-threshold mechanoreceptive A beta fibres that normally generate innocuous sensations. Three different processes in the spinal cord can account for this dramatic alteration in sensory processing in the somatosensory system: increased excitability, decreased inhibition and structural reorganization. All have been shown to occur and each may contribute separately or together to the wide range of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain disorders. The unravelling of the cellular mechanisms involved both offers the potential for developing novel therapeutic strategies, which reduce functional synaptic plasticity and prevent central atrophic and regenerative responses in injured neurones, and illustrates the capacity of the adult nervous system for maladaptive modification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*