Spinal Cord Stimulation Attenuates Below-Level Mechanical Hypersensitivity in Rats After Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury

Wanru Duan, Qian Huang, Fei Yang, Shao Qiu He, Yun Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The burden of pain after spinal cord injury (SCI), which may occur above, at, or below injury level, is high worldwide. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an important neuromodulation pain therapy, but its efficacy in SCI pain remains unclear. In SCI rats, we tested whether conventional SCS (50 Hz, 80% motor threshold [MoT]) and 1200 Hz, low-intensity SCS (40% MoT) inhibit hind paw mechanical hypersensitivity, and whether conventional SCS attenuates evoked responses of wide-dynamic range (WDR) neurons in lumbar spinal cord. Materials and Methods: Male rats underwent a moderate contusive injury at the T9 vertebral level. Six to eight weeks later, SCS or sham stimulation (120 min, n = 10) was delivered through epidural miniature electrodes placed at upper-lumbar spinal cord, with using a crossover design. Mechanical hypersensitivity was examined in awake rats by measuring paw withdrawal threshold (PWT) to stimulation with von Frey filaments. WDR neurons were recorded with in vivo electrophysiologic methods in a separate study of anesthetized rats. Results: Both conventional SCS and 1200 Hz SCS increased PWTs from prestimulation level in SCI rats, but the effects were modest and short-lived. Sham SCS was not effective. Conventional SCS (10 min) at an intensity that evokes the peak Aα/β waveform of sciatic compound action potential did not inhibit WDR neuronal responses (n = 19) to graded or repeated electrical stimulation that induces windup. Conclusions: Conventional SCS and 1200 Hz, low-intensity SCS modestly attenuated below-level mechanical hypersensitivity after SCI. Inhibition of WDR neurons was not associated with pain inhibition from conventional SCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Dorsal horn neuron
  • pain
  • rat
  • spinal cord injury
  • spinal cord stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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