Abstract: Phantoms in rheumatology

Novartis Found Symp. 2004;260:154-74; discussion 174-8, 277-9. McCabe CS, Haigh RC, Shenker NG, Lewis J, Blake DR. The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Upper Borough Walls, UK.

This paper examines rheumatology pain and how it may relate to amputee phantom limb pain (PLP), specifically as experienced in rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Clinical findings, which suggest cortical sensory reorganization, are discussed and illustrated for each condition.

It is proposed that this sensory reorganization generates pain and altered body image in rheumatology patients in the same manner as has previously been hypothesized for amputees with PLP; that is via a motor/sensory conflict. The correction of this conflict through the provision of appropriate visual sensory input, using a mirror, is tested in a population of patients with CRPS. Its analgesic efficacy is assessed in those with acute, intermediate and chronic disease.

Finally, the hypothesis is taken to its natural conclusion whereby motor/sensory conflict is artificially generated in healthy volunteers and chronic pain patients to establish whether sensory disturbances can be created where no pain symptoms exists and exacerbated when it is already present. The findings of our studies support the hypothesis that a mismatch between motor output and sensory input creates sensory disturbances, including pain, in rheumatology patients and healthy volunteers. We propose the term 'ominory' to describe the central monitoring mechanism and the resultant sensory disturbances as a dissensory state. PMID: 15283449 [PubMed – in process]

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