Voluntary movements as a possible non-reflexive pain assay

Hawon Cho, Yongwoo Jang, Byeongjun Lee, Hyeyoun Chun, Jooyoung Jung, Sung Min Kim, Sun Wook Hwang, Uhtaek Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The quantification of pain intensity in vivo is essential for identifying the mechanisms of various types of pain or for evaluating the effects of different analgesics. A variety of behavioral tests for pain measurement have been devised, but many are limited because animals are physically restricted, which affects pain sensation. In this study, pain assessment was attempted with minimal physical restriction, and voluntary movements of unrestrained animals were used to evaluate the intensities of various types of pain.Results: The number of times animals reared or total distances traveled was measured using a motion-tracking device and found to be markedly reduced in carrageenan-induced inflammatory, acetic acid-induced visceral, and streptozotocin-induced neuropathic pain tests. These two voluntary movement parameters were found to be highly correlated with paw withdrawal latency from irradiating heat. In addition, these parameters were markedly reversed by morphine and by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in inflammatory pain models. These parameters were also useful to detect hypoalgesia in TRPV1-/- mice.Conclusions: These results suggest that parameters of voluntary movement, such as, number of rearing and total distance moved, are effective indicators of pain intensity for many types of pain and that they can be used to evaluate degree of pain perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalMolecular pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May 20


  • Inflammatory pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Rearing
  • TRPV1
  • Total distance moved
  • Visceral pain
  • Voluntary movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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