Motor dysfunction of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is related to impaired central processing of proprioceptive information

P.J.M. Bank, C.E. Peper, J. Marinus, P.J. Beek, J.J. van Hilten

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Our understanding of proprioceptive deficits in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and its potential contribution to impaired motor function is still limited. To gain more insight into these issues, we evaluated accuracy and precision of joint position sense over a range of flexion-extension angles of the wrist of the affected and unaffected sides in 25 chronic CRPS patients and in 50 healthy controls. The results revealed proprioceptive impairment at both the patients' affected and unaffected sides, characterized predominantly by overestimation of wrist extension angles. Precision of the position estimates was more prominently reduced at the affected side. Importantly, group differences in proprioceptive performance were observed not only for tests at identical percentages of each individual's range of wrist motion but also when controls were tested at wrist angles that corresponded to those of the patient's affected side. More severe motor impairment of the affected side was associated with poorer proprioceptive performance. Based on additional sensory tests, variations in proprioceptive performance over the range of wrist angles, and comparisons between active and passive displacements, the disturbances of proprioceptive performance most likely resulted from altered processing of afferent (and not efferent) information and its subsequent interpretation in the context of a distorted "body schema." Perspective The present results point at a significant role for impaired central processing of proprioceptive information in the motor dysfunction of CRPS and suggest that therapeutic strategies aimed at identification of proprioceptive impairments and their restoration may promote the recovery of motor function in CRPS patients. © 2013 by the American Pain Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1460-1474
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Pain
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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