Neurobiology of articular nociceptors
This chapter focuses on the innervation of the knee joint of the cat which has been investigated in some detail in connection with the numerous functional studies of this joint under normal and pathophysiological conditions. This joint is mainly innervated by the medial (MAN) and the posterior articular nerves (PAN). Each nerve contains approximately 650 afferent fibres and about 500 unmyelinated sympathetic efferents. Within the afferent fibres, the majority are thinly myelinated group III and unmyelinated group IV units (MAN, 91%; PAN, 74%). The small contribution of the group I fibres in the PAN is presumably due to stray fibres joining in from muscle spindles of the popliteus muscle. The maximum diameter within afferent group IV fibres is 0.3–0.4 μm; the maximum within the sympathetic efferent fibres is around 0.8–0.9 μm.
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