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Journal Article


Passatore M, Roatta S. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2006; 98(5): 423-449.


Department of Neuroscience, Physiology Division, University of Torino Medical School, Corso Raffaello 30, 10125, Torino, Italy.


(Copyright © 2006, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






There is increasing interest about the possible involvement of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in initiation and maintenance of chronic muscle pain syndromes of different aetiology. Epidemiological data show that stresses of different nature, e.g. work-related, psychosocial, etc., typically characterised by SNS activation, may be a co-factor in the development of the pain syndrome and/or negatively affect its time course. In spite of their clear traumatic origin, whiplash associated disorders (WAD) appear to share many common features with other chronic pain syndromes affecting the musculo-skeletal system. These features do not only include symptoms, like type of pain or sensory and motor dysfunctions, but possibly also some of the pathophysiological mechanisms that may concur to establish the chronic pain syndrome. This review focuses on WAD, particular emphasis being devoted to sensorimotor symptoms, and on the actions exerted by the sympathetic system at muscle level. Besides its well-known action on muscle blood flow, the SNS is able to affect the contractility of muscle fibres, to modulate the proprioceptive information arising from the muscle spindle receptors and, under certain conditions, to modulate nociceptive information. Furthermore, the activity of the SNS itself is in turn affected by muscle conditions, such as its current state of activity, fatigue and pain signals originating in the muscle. The possible involvement of the SNS in the development of WAD is discussed in light of the several positive feedback loops in which it is implicated.

Language: en


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