Reduction of pain-related behaviors with either cold or heat treatment in an animal model of acute arthritis

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      Objective: To assess the effects of heat and cold on quantifiable pain behaviors in an animal model of arthritis that minimizes the motivational-affective component of pain.
      Design: The effects of superficial heat (40°C) and cold (4°C) on pain behaviors in rats with knee joint inflammation were tested before and after induction of inflammation and after treatment with heat or cold.
      Subjects: Joint inflammation was induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats by intra-articular injection of the knee joint with 3% kaolin and 3% carrageenan.
      Main Outcome Measures: Withdrawal latency to heat applied to the paw (PWL) assessed secondary hyperalgesia; spontaneous pain behaviors assessed degree of weight bearing/guarding; and joint circumference assessed joint swelling.
      Results: Cold treatment of the inflamed knee joint significantly reversed the PWL immediately after treatment (p = .003) without affecting spontaneous pain behaviors or joint circumference. In contrast, heat treatment produced a small but significant decrease in spontaneous pain behaviors (p = .03) without affecting PWL or joint circumference.
      Conclusion: Acute arthritic pain can be treated with either superficial heat for reducing guarding or with cold for reducing pain or hyperalgesia outside the injury site.


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