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Topical irritants such as capsaicin (CAP), peppermint oil (PO), and mustard oil (MO) are effective in relieving inflammatory muscle pain. We investigated the effects of topical irritants in a rat model of inflammatory muscle pain produced by injecting complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the tibialis anterior muscle. CFA-induced mechanical hypersensitivity and the spontaneous activity of muscular nociceptive afferents, and decreased weight-bearing of the hindlimb were relieved by topical application of CAP, PO, or MO on the skin overlying the inflamed muscle. The effects of topical irritants were abolished when applied to the skin on the ipsilateral plantar region or on the contralateral leg, or when the relevant cutaneous nerve or dorsal root was transected. Our results demonstrated that topical irritants may alleviate inflammatory muscle pain via activating cutaneous nociceptors and subsequently inhibiting the abnormal activity of muscular nociceptive neurons.


Yehong Fang, Jie Zhu, Wanru Duan, Yikuan Xie, Chao Ma. Inhibition of Muscular Nociceptive Afferents via the Activation of Cutaneous Nociceptors in a Rat Model of Inflammatory Muscle Pain. Neuroscience bulletin. 2020 Jan;36(1):1-10

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PMID: 31230211

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