Muscle pain


Investigating the impact of muscle pain on chronic pain


In addition to being caused by overt muscle damage, muscle pain (myalgia) more often develops from the demand for recurrent isometric muscular contractions involved in repetitive activity.

Characteristically, there is increased ‘muscle tone’, mild to severe pain, tender areas of hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation in the muscle and spread of this hypersensitivity to surrounding muscles, each of which can affect the performance of synergist muscles.

However, the mechanisms by which acute muscle pain becomes pathological are yet to be understood. One idea relies on changes in muscle spindles, which are highly sensitive stretch receptors located in skeletal muscles throughout the body. Muscle spindles are unusual sensory organs in that they have their own motor innervation – fusimotor motoneurones – which can modulate the sensitivity of muscle spindles to static and dynamic muscle stretch and thereby influence their capacity to encode changes in muscle length and hence the sensory feedback they provide.

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PREDICT: A novel cortical biomarker signature for predicting pain sensitivity

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is the second most common musculoskeletal pain condition and is associated with pain and tenderness of the jaw. Although a number of biological factors have shown an association with chronic TMD in cross-sectional and case control studies, there are currently no biomarkers that can predict the development of chronic symptoms. Because of the difficulty in treating chronic pain, development of brain signal predictive biomarkers is of growing interest. The PREDICT project will aim to develop a predictive biomarker signature of pain severity and duration using two commonly available techniques – electroencephalogram (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – and perform initial clinical validation in first onset TMD. The biomarker could have utility in identifying patients at high risk of transitioning from acute to chronic pain and has additional potential for clinical application in the treatment and prevention of chronic pain. This project will be carried out in collaboration with a team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore lead by A/Prof David Seminowicz (see more information here). PREDICT Publications Seminowicz DA, Bilska K, Chowdhury NS, Skippen P, Millard SK, Chiang A, Chen S, Furman AJ, & Schabrun SM. (2020). A novel cortical biomarker signature for predicting pain sensitivity: protocol for the PREDICT longitudinal analytical validation study. Pain Reports, 5(4), e833. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000833