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J Pain. 2013 May;14(5):446-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2012.12.009. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Muscle hyperalgesia correlates with motor function in complex regional pain syndrome type 1.

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Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


At present it is unclear if disturbed sensory processing plays a role in the development of the commonly observed motor impairments in patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This study aims to investigate the relation between sensory and motor functioning in CRPS patients with and without dystonia. Patients with CRPS of the arm and controls underwent comprehensive quantitative sensory testing and kinematic analysis of repetitive finger movements. Both CRPS groups showed thermal hypoesthesia to cold and warm stimuli and hyperalgesia to cold stimuli. A decreased pressure pain threshold reflecting muscle hyperalgesia emerged as the most prominent sensory abnormality in both patient groups and was most pronounced in CRPS patients with dystonia. Moreover, the decreased pressure pain threshold was the only nociceptive parameter that related to measures of motor function in both patients and controls. CRPS patients with dystonia had an increased 2-point discrimination as compared to controls and CRPS patients without dystonia. This finding was also reported in other types of dystonia and has been associated to cortical reorganization in response to impaired motor function. We hypothesize that increased sensitivity of the circuitry mediating muscle nociception may play a crucial role in impaired motor control in CRPS.


This is the first study linking a sensory dysfunction, ie, muscle hyperalgesia, to motor impairment in CRPS. Circuitries mediating muscle nociception may therefore play an important role in impaired motor control in CRPS.

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