Therapeutic Ultrasound and Treadmill Training Suppress Peripheral Nerve Injury–Induced Pain in Rats

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Abstract

Background

Although evidence suggests that therapeutic ultrasound (TU) in combination with treadmill training (TT) suppresses nerve injury–associated pain, the molecular mechanisms for this action are not clear.

Objective

The purpose of this research was to study the possible beneficial effects of TU and TT, alone and in combination, on 2 clinical indicators of neuropathic pain and correlate these findings with changes in inflammatory mediators within the spinal cord. Our experimental model used the well-known chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the rat sciatic nerve.

Design

This was an experimental study.

Methods

Each group contained 10 rats. Group 1 underwent only the CCI procedure. Group 2 underwent a sham operation where the sciatic nerve was exposed but not ligated. Group 3 had the sham operation followed by both TT and TU. Groups 4, 5, and 6 underwent the CCI procedure followed by TT alone, TU alone, and both the TT and TU interventions, respectively. Heat and mechanical sensitivity, interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-10 (IL-10), and ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba1) were evaluated.

Results

Compared with group 1 animals, TT or TU, or both, produced smaller decreases in mechanical withdrawal threshold and heat withdrawal latencies. The combination of TT and TU was more effective than either treatment alone. In addition, rats that received these treatments did not express the upregulation of IL-6 and Iba1 in their spinal cords on postoperative days 14 and 28, as was found in the group 1 animals.

Limitations

These experimental findings may not be generalizable to humans.

Conclusions

The combination of TU and TT reduces neuropathic pain more than either modality alone. This beneficial effect appears related to downregulation of proinflammatory IL-6 and Iba1, while upregulating the anti-inflammatory IL-10.

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