Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration with Modic-like changes is strongly associated with pain. Lack of effective disease-modifying treatments for IVDs with endplate (EP) defects means there is a need for an animal model to improve understanding of how EP-driven IVD degeneration can lead to spinal cord sensitization. This rat in vivo study determined whether EP injury results in spinal dorsal horn sensitization (substance P, SubP), microglia (Iba1) and astrocytes (GFAP), and evaluated their relationship with pain-related behaviors, IVD degeneration, and spinal macrophages (CD68). Fifteen male Sprague Dawley rats were assigned into sham or EP injury groups. At chronic time points, 8 weeks after injury, lumbar spines and spinal cords were isolated for immunohistochemical analyses of SubP, Iba1, GFAP, and CD68. EP injury most significantly increased SubP, demonstrating spinal cord sensitization. Spinal cord SubP-, Iba1- and GFAP-immunoreactivity were positively correlated with pain-related behaviors, indicating spinal cord sensitization and neuroinflammation play roles in pain responses. EP injury increased CD68 macrophages in the EP and vertebrae, and spinal cord SubP-, Iba1- and GFAP-ir were positively correlated with IVD degeneration and CD68-ir EP and vertebrae. We conclude that EP injuries result in broad spinal inflammation with crosstalk between spinal cord, vertebrae and IVD, suggesting that therapies must address neural pathologies, IVD degeneration, and chronic spinal inflammation.