Time course of muscle atrophy and recovery following a phenol-induced nerve block

Sue C. Bodine-Fowler, Stephen Allsing, Michael J. Botte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Clinically, phenol is used often as a neurolytic agent to treat pain and spasticity. The purpose of this study was to examine the time course of denervation and recovery in several hindlimb muscles following application of a 5% aqueous solution of phenol to the sciatic nerve. Phenol was applied to the sciatic nerve of adult female rats either by intraneural or perineural injection. Axonal degeneration was evident within the sciatic nerve 2 days following phenol application, although variable amounts of damage were observed. By 2 weeks, the soleus and tibialis anterior had atrophied to 63% and 51% of control. Reinnervation of hindlimb muscles occurred between 2 and 4 weeks following the nerve block. Following denervation, the soleus became slower in that all of the fibers expressed the slow myosin heavy chain (MHC). At 5 months, maximum tension of the soleus was 74% of control and the muscle consisted of more fast fibers on average, some of which expressed IIx MHC. These data suggest that 5% phenol causes an injury to the nerve that is more severe than a crush injury, and that reinnervation of denervated muscles may be by motoneurons other than those that originally innervated the muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996


  • conduction velocity
  • contractile properties
  • denervation
  • myosin heavy chains
  • reinnervation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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