The tibial neuroma transposition (TNT) model of neuroma pain and hyperalgesia

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Peripheral nerve injury may lead to the formation of a painful neuroma. In patients, palpating the tissue overlying a neuroma evokes paraesthesias/dysaesthesias in the distribution of the injured nerve. Previous animal models of neuropathic pain have focused on the mechanical hyperalgesia and allodynia that develops at a location distant from the site of injury and not on the pain from direct stimulation of the neuroma. We describe a new animal model of neuroma pain in which the neuroma was located in a position that is accessible to mechanical testing and outside of the innervation territory of the injured nerve. This allowed testing of pain in response to mechanical stimulation of the neuroma (which we call neuroma tenderness) independent of pain due to mechanical hyperalgesia. In the tibial neuroma transposition (TNT) model, the posterior tibial nerve was ligated and transected in the foot just proximal to the plantar bifurcation. Using a subcutaneous tunnel, the end of the ligated nerve was positioned just superior to the lateral malleolus. Mechanical stimulation of the neuroma produced a profound withdrawal behavior that could be distinguished from the hyperalgesia that developed on the hind paw. The neuroma tenderness (but not the hyperalgesia) was reversed by local lidocaine injection and by proximal transection of the tibial nerve. Afferents originating from the neuroma exhibited spontaneous activity and responses to mechanical stimulation of the neuroma. The TNT model provides a useful tool to investigate the differential mechanisms underlying the neuroma tenderness and mechanical hyperalgesia associated with neuropathic pain.

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