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Visceral pain: the ins and outs, the ups and downs

Sikandar, Shafaq; Dickenson, Anthony H.

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2012 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - p 17–26
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e32834f6ec9
PAIN: CANCER: Edited by Anthony H. Dickenson and Paul W. Farquhar-Smith

Purpose of review Visceral pain represents a major clinical problem, yet far less is known about its mechanisms compared with somatic pains, for example, from cutaneous and muscular structures.

Recent findings In this review, we describe the neuroanatomical bases of visceral pain signalling in the peripheral and central nervous system, comparing to somatic pains and also the channels and receptors involved in these events. We include an overview of potential new targets in the context of mechanisms of visceral pain and hypersensitivity.

Summary This review should inform on the recognition of what occurs in patients with visceral pain, why comorbidities are common and how analgesic treatments work.

Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology University College London, London UK

Correspondence to Shafaq Sikandar, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 2076793737; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.