by Katharina Zimmermann, Caroline Leidl, Miriam Kaschka, Richard W. Carr, Pavel Terekhin, Hermann O. Handwerker, Clemens Forster
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a subacute pain state arising 24–48 hours after a bout of unaccustomed eccentric muscle contractions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine the patterns of cortical activation arising during DOMS-related pain in the quadriceps muscle of healthy volunteers evoked by either voluntary contraction or physical stimulation. The painful movement or physical stimulation of the DOMS-affected thigh disclosed widespread activation in the primary somatosensory and motor (S1, M1) cortices, stretching far beyond the corresponding areas somatotopically related to contraction or physical stimulation of the thigh; activation also included a large area within the cingulate cortex encompassing posteroanterior regions and the cingulate motor area. Pain-related activations were also found in premotor (M2) areas, bilateral in the insular cortex and the thalamic nuclei. In contrast, movement of a DOMS-affected limb led also to activation in the ipsilateral anterior cerebellum, while DOMS-related pain evoked by physical stimulation devoid of limb movement did not.