ABSTRACT: There is growing evidence that neck pain is common in adolescence and is a risk factor for the development of chronic neck pain in adulthood. The cervical facet joint and its capsular ligament is a common source of pain in the neck in adults, but its role in adolescent pain remains unknown. The aim of this study was to define the biomechanics, behavioral sensitivity, and indicators of neuronal and glial activation in an adolescent model of mechanical facet joint injury. A bilateral C6-C7 facet joint distraction was imposed in an adolescent rat and biomechanical metrics were measured during injury. Following injury, forepaw mechanical hyperalgesia was measured, and protein kinase C-epsilon (PKCɛ) and metabotropic glutamate receptor-5 (mGluR5) expression in the dorsal root ganglion and markers of spinal glial activation were assessed. Joint distraction induced significant mechanical hyperalgesia during the 7 days post-injury (p < 0.001). Painful injury significantly increased PKCɛ expression in small- and medium-diameter neurons compared to sham (p < 0.05) and naïve tissue (p < 0.001). Similarly, mGluR5 expression was significantly elevated in small-diameter neurons after injury (p < 0.05). Spinal astrocytic activation after injury was also elevated over sham (p < 0.035) and naïve (p < 0.0001) levels; microglial activation was only greater than naïve levels (p < 0.006). Mean strains in the facet capsule during injury were 32.8 ± 12.9%, which were consistent with the strains associated with comparable degrees of hypersensitivity in the adult rat. These results suggest that adolescents may have a lower tissue tolerance to induce pain and associated nociceptive response than do adults.
Journal of neurotrauma 10/2010; 27(12):2261-71. · 4.25 Impact Factor