Latent Sensitization is triggered by injuries that cause long-term inflammation or nerve damage, such as skin incision, injection of inflammatory agents or nerve transection. This is followed by a period of increased sensitivity to mechanical (for example, poking with nylon filaments known as von Frey filaments) or thermal (focusing a hot light on the paw) stimuli. The key part of the Latent Sensitization model is that when that period of hypersensitivity has ended it can be reinstated temporarily by an injection of an antagonist of opioid receptors (mu, delta or kappa) or of alpha-2 adrenergic receptors. This reveals that the neural pathways that process pain remain sensitized but at the same time are suppressed by the activation of these opioid or adrenergic receptors. It is likely that similar process occur in chronic pain patients. Another important characteristic of Latent Sensitization is that pain can also be reinstated by stress (like making a rat swim in a bucket of water or exposing it to a new environment). Again, this happen to chronic pain patients.
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