Neuropsychological changes in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

Monika Halicka, Axel D. Vittersø, Michael J. Proulx, Janet H. Bultitude

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a poorly understood chronic pain condition of multifactorial origin. CRPS involves sensory, motor, and autonomic symptoms primarily affecting one extremity. Patients can also present with neuropsychological changes such as reduced attention to the CRPS-affected extremity, reminiscent of hemispatial neglect, yet in the absence of any brain lesions. However, this "neglect-like" framework is not sufficient to characterise the range of higher cognitive functions that can be altered in CRPS. This comprehensive literature review synthesises evidence of neuropsychological changes in CRPS in the context of potential central mechanisms of the disorder. The affected neuropsychological functions constitute three distinct but not independent groups: distorted body representation, deficits in lateralised spatial cognition, and impairment of non-spatially-lateralised higher cognitive functions. We suggest that many of these symptoms appear to be consistent with a broader disruption to parietal function beyond merely what could be considered "neglect-like." Moreover, the extent of neuropsychological symptoms might be related to the clinical signs of CRPS, and rehabilitation methods that target the neuropsychological changes can improve clinical outcomes in CRPS and other chronic pain conditions. Based on the limitations and gaps in the reviewed literature, we provide several suggestions to improve further research on neuropsychological changes in chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4561831
JournalBehavioural Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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