Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a severe chronic pain condition that is not well understood and current treatment is suboptimal. In several other chronic pain conditions motor imagery and tactile acuity deficits are present, which are thought to represent associated neuroplastic changes. The aims of this study were to determine if motor imagery performance assessed by the left/right judgement task, and tactile acuity assessed by two-point discrimination, are altered in people with unilateral frozen shoulder. In this cross-sectional, prospective study eighteen adults diagnosed with frozen shoulder in a physiotherapy clinic setting completed a left/right judgement task, response times (RT) and accuracy for the left/right judgement task were determined. Next, tactile acuity over both shoulders was assessed with a novel, force-standardised two-point discrimination test. Results corresponding to the affected side were compared to the pain free shoulder; Left/right judgement task: mean RT (SD) corresponding to the affected shoulder was significantly slower than RT for the healthy shoulder (p
= 0.031). There was no side-to-side difference in accuracy (p
> 0.05). Neither RT nor accuracy was related to pain/disability scores or duration of symptoms (p
> 0.05). Two-point discrimination: mean two-point discrimination threshold of the affected shoulder was significantly larger than the contralateral healthy shoulder (p
< 0.001). Two-point discrimination threshold was not related to pain/disability scores or pain duration (p
> 0.05); One explanation for these findings is altered sensorimotor processing and/or disrupted sensorimotor cortex representations of the affected shoulder. A case then exists for the use of treatments aimed at reversing these changes, training the brain to reduce chronic shoulder pain.
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