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Paul Farquhar-Smith

, Pierre Beaulieu

, and Sian Jagger

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date: 27 October 2021

The landmark paper discussed in this chapter is ‘Autotomy following peripheral nerve lesions: Experimental anaesthesia dolorosa’, published by Wall et al. in 1979. This paper was the culmination of a series of studies in which Wall, together with a number of colleagues, investigated the underlying causes of neuropathic pain following peripheral nerve injury. In this paper, the authors used a variety of nerve injury models to show that the extent of resultant anaesthesia combined with ectopic firing from damaged axons in nerve-end neuromas correlated with the severity of self-mutilation (termed ‘autotomy’) observed in the affected hindlimb. The authors therefore suggested that these simple models might be suitable for studies of the prevention of irritations originating from chronic lesions of peripheral nerves. Indeed, this proved to be the case, sparking the development of numerous animal models of spontaneous pain following nerve injury and spawning a new field of neuropathic pain research.

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