Cortical changes in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

Authors

  • C.M.A. Karin Swart,

    1. Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • John F. Stins,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Peter J. Beek

    1. Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Tel.: +31 (0) 20 5988543; fax: +31 (0) 20 5988529. j.stins@fbw.vu.nl

ABSTRACT

Recent research suggests that changes in cortical structures can contribute to the pathophysiology of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This review provides an overview of studies showing cortical involvement in CRPS, including mislocalizations of tactile stimuli, changes in size and organization of the somatosensory map, changes in motor cortex representation and body perception disturbances. In addition, we review experimental treatment approaches, such as mirror therapy and motor imagery programs, aimed at restoring the integrity of neural processing in the sensory-motor cortex in individuals with CRPS. The intervention effects are promising and can be theoretically motivated on the basis of established principles of neural organization, although important questions concerning the precise neural mechanisms of action remain unanswered.

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