Kinesthetic illusions attenuate experimental muscle pain, as do muscle and cutaneous stimulation

  • Gay André
  • Aimonetti Jean-Marc
  • Roll Jean-Pierre
  • Ribot-Ciscar Edith


In the present study, muscle pain was induced experimentally in healthy subjects by administrating hypertonic saline injections into the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle. We first aimed at comparing the analgesic effects of mechanical vibration applied to either cutaneous or muscle receptors of the TA or to both types simultaneously. Secondly, pain alleviation was compared in subjects in whom muscle tendon vibration evoked kinesthetic illusions of the ankle joint. Muscle tendon vibration, which primarily activated muscle receptors, reduced pain intensity by 30% (p<0.01). In addition, tangential skin vibration reduced pain intensity by 33% (p<0.01), primarily by activating cutaneous receptors. Concurrently stimulating both sensory channels induced stronger analgesic effects (-51%, p<0.01), as shown by the lower levels of electrodermal activity. The strongest analgesic effects of the vibration-induced muscle inputs occurred when illusory movements were perceived (-38%, p=0.01). The results suggest that both cutaneous and muscle sensory feedback reduce muscle pain, most likely via segmental and supraspinal processes. Further clinical trials are needed to investigate these new methods of muscle pain relief. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.