Abnormal thalamocortical activity in patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) type I. Academic Article uri icon


  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a neuropathic disease that presents a continuing challenge in terms of pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Recent studies of neuropathic pain, in both animals and patients, have established a direct relationship between abnormal thalamic rhythmicity related to Thalamo-cortical Dysrhythmia (TCD) and the occurrence of central pain. Here, this relationship has been examined using magneto-encephalographic (MEG) imaging in CRPS Type I, characterized by the absence of nerve lesions. The study addresses spontaneous MEG activity from 13 awake, adult patients (2 men, 11 women; age 15-62), with CRPS Type I of one extremity (duration range: 3months to 10years) and from 13 control subjects. All CRPS I patients demonstrated peaks in power spectrum in the delta (<4Hz) and/or theta (4-9Hz) frequency ranges resulting in a characteristically increased spectral power in those ranges when compared to control subjects. The localization of such abnormal activity, implemented using independent component analysis (ICA) of the sensor data, showed delta and/or theta range activity localized to the somatosensory cortex corresponding to the pain localization, and to orbitofrontal-temporal cortices related to the affective pain perception. Indeed, CRPS Type I patients presented abnormal brain activity typical of TCD, which has both diagnostic value indicating a central origin for this ailment and a potential treatment interest involving pharmacological and electrical stimulation therapies.

publication date

  • July 2010

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