*Rat Study Suggests Exercise Can Reduce Nerve Pain*
Published on Psych Central

[image: Rat Study Suggests Exercise Can Reduce Nerve Pain]A new study finds
that exercise may be a “new” method to treat pain related to nerve damage.

Researchers discovered exercise reduces certain inflammation-promoting
factors called cytokines. This discovery supports the use of exercise as a
nondrug treatment for neuropathic pain.

The study is published in the journal *Anesthesia & Analgesia*.

The results support exercise as a potentially useful nondrug treatment for
neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain is a common and difficult-to-treat type of pain caused by
nerve damage, seen in patients with trauma, diabetes, and other conditions.
Phantom limb pain after amputation is an example of neuropathic pain.

In the study, Yu-Wen Chen, Ph.D., and colleagues examined the effects of
exercise on neuropathic pain induced by sciatic nerve injury in rats.

After nerve injury, some animals performed progressive exercise—either
swimming or treadmill running—over a few weeks. The researchers assessed
the effects of exercise on neuropathic pain severity by monitoring
observable pain behaviors.

The results suggested significant reductions in neuropathic pain in rats
assigned to swimming or treadmill running. Exercise reduced abnormal
responses to temperature and pressure—both characteristic of neuropathic

Exercise also led to reduced expression of inflammation-promoting cytokines
in sciatic nerve tissue—specifically, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and
interleukin-1-beta. This finding confirmed the hypothesis that inflammation
and pro-inflammatory cytokines play a role in the development of
neuropathic pain in response to nerve injury.

Exercise also led to increased expression of a protein, called heat shock
protein-27, which may have contributed to the reductions in cytokine

Pain from nerve damage is characterized by both a burning sensation and by
numbness and is often not controlled by conventional pain medications.
Antidepressant and antiepileptic drugs may be helpful, but have significant
side effects. Exercise is commonly recommended for patients with various
types of chronic pain, but there are conflicting data as to whether it is
helpful in neuropathic pain.

The new results support the benefits of exercise in reducing neuropathic
pain, though not eliminating it completely. In the experiments, exercise
reduced abnormal pain responses by 30 to 50 percent.

Researchers also believe the study provides new evidence that inflammation
contributes to the development of neuropathic pain. Study results also
support use of exercise as a nondrug therapy for neuropathic
pain—potentially reducing the need for medications and resulting side

Source: Anesthesia and Analgesia >

Rat exercising photo by shutterstock .»