The use of motion analysis to measure pain-related behaviour in a rat model of degenerative tendon injuries

Chronic tendinopathy is characterized with longstanding activity-related pain with degenerative tendon injuries. An objective tool to measure painful responses in animal models is essential for the development of effective treatment for tendinopathy. Gait analysis has been developed to monitor the inflammatory pain in small animals. We reported the use of motion analysis to monitor gait changes in a rat model of degenerative tendon injury. Intratendinous injection of collagenase into the left patellar tendon of Sprague Dawley rat was used to induce degenerative tendon injury, while an equal volume of saline was injected in the control groups. Motion analyses with a high speed video camera were performed on all rats at pre-injury, 2, 4, 8, 12 or 16 weeks post injection. In the end-point study, the rats were sacrificed to obtain tendon samples for histological examination after motion analyses. In the follow-up study, repeated motion analyses were performed on another group of collagenase-treated and saline-treated rats. The results showed that rats with injured patellar tendon exhibited altered walking gait as compared to the controls. The change in double stance duration in the collagenase-treated rats was reversible by administration of buprenorphrine (p = 0.029), it suggested that the detected gait changes were associated with pain. Comparisons of end-point and follow-up studies revealed the confounding effects of training, which led to higher gait velocities and probably a different adaptive response to tendon pain in the trained rats. The results showed that motion analysis could be used to measure activity-related chronic tendon pain. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.