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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 May 2021 - 28 May 2021

2021 May 19

Joint Bone Spine

Chronic pain and neuroinflammation.


Vergne-Salle P, Bertin P
Joint Bone Spine. 2021 May 19:105222.
PMID: 34022418.


In rheumatology, chronic pain most often sets in after a musculoskeletal injury. Its persistence is not always due to the progression of the initial injury, but in some cases to the onset of central sensitization. Much scientific data suggests that this central sensitization is caused by multiple complex interactions between the nervous system and immune system. Afferent nerve fibers carrying pain information are responsible for peripheral sensitization partly linked to inflammation molecules. These afferent fibers release neurotransmitters in the dorsal root ganglion and dorsal horn of the spinal cord, capable of activating microglia, which are the local immune cells. The activated microglia will produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and neuropeptides capable of interacting with the second-order neuron, but also segmental and descending inhibitory neurons. This is referred to as neuroinflammation, which will amplify the hypersensitivity of second-order neurons, otherwise called central sensitization. This neuroinflammation will be able to reach the higher brain structures, which are involved in pain modulation and the emotional and cognitive aspects of pain. The aim of this update is to describe the pathophysiology of chronic pain, incorporating the latest scientific data on neuroplasticity and neuroinflammation.