Background: Disturbances in body perception are increasingly acknowledged as a feature of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Conventional treatments have limited success particularly among those with long-standing disease. Understanding the relationship between body perception disturbance, pain and tactile acuity might provide insight into alternative avenues for treatment. The aim of this study was to test the hypotheses that (1) body perception disturbance is positively related to pain and (2) decreased tactile acuity is related to increased body perception disturbance. Methods: A controlled observational design was used to measure these features among those with CRPS of one arm. The extent of body perception disturbance was assessed using the Bath CRPS body perception disturbance scale and pain was measured using the neuropathic pain symptom inventory. Two-point discrimination threshold testing was performed as a measure of tactile acuity. Results: Findings confirmed both hypotheses. Body perception disturbance was found to positively correlate with pain such that those in greater pain had more extensive body perception disturbance (r = 0.57, p < 0.01). Furthermore, a positive correlation was revealed between body perception disturbance and two-point discrimination thresholds (r = 0.5, p < 0.025) so those with greater body perception disturbance had worse tactile acuity. Interestingly, those with longer disease duration had significantly greater body perception disturbance (r = 0.66, p < 0.001). Conclusion: Aberrant central processing is suggested as the neural correlate of body perception disturbance and tactile impairment. The exact relationship between body perception disturbance, pain and tactile acuity and how they may be modulated for pain relief requires further exploration. © 2012 European Federation of International Association for the Study of Pain Chapters.
Lewis, J. S., & Schweinhardt, P. (2012). Perceptions of the painful body: The relationship between body perception disturbance, pain and tactile discrimination in complex regional pain syndrome. European Journal of Pain, 16(9), 1320-1330. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00120.x