New study from UNE researchers could help diagnosis of radiating pain conditions

Geoffrey Bove and Rosann Govea
Geoffrey Bove and Rosann Govea

July 14, 2017

New research from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine shows fine nerve fibers can develop sensitivity to chemicals associated with inflammation at sites that are not normally sensitive. 

Pain radiating to the arm and leg are common health problems and are often associated with back and neck pain. The cause of these symptoms has remained obscure. 

The Journal of Neurophysiology has published an original research paper from UNE postdoctoral research fellow Rosann Govea, Ph.D., UNE Professor Geoffrey Bove, D.C., Ph.D., and Mary Barbe Ph.D. of Temple University titled “Group IV nociceptors develop axonal chemical sensitivity during neuritis and following treatment of the sciatic nerve with vinblastine.” 

The paper presents the results of experiments where nerves were inflamed and recordings were made from neurons that are the first part of the pain pathway. The research found that while the long fibers, called axons, from normal neurons were not sensitive to painful chemicals, when inflamed many axons develop ectopic sensitivity. 

“Many patients with back problems where the nerves are inflamed exemplify the clinical importance of this finding,” said Bove. “While the patient may feel pain in their leg, the problem may not be in their leg. Thus, these findings inform clinical diagnosis, and therefore the clinical care, of patients with radiating pain.”

Read the full paper.

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