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Does Motor Cortex Engagement During Movement Preparation Differentially Inhibit Nociceptive Processing in Patients with Chronic Whiplash Associated Disorders, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Healthy Controls? An Experimental Study

  • Goudman, Lisa1, 2, 3
  • Mouraux, André
  • Daenen, Liesbeth2, 3, 4
  • Nijs, Jo2, 3, 5
  • Cras, Patrick6, 7
  • Roussel, Nathalie
  • Moens, Maarten1, 8, 9
  • Lenoir, Dorine2, 10
  • Coppieters, Iris2, 3, 5, 10
  • Huysmans, Eva2, 3, 5, 11
  • De Kooning, Margot2, 3, 5
  • 1 (M.M.)
  • 2 (E.H.)
  • 3 & Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
  • 4 Knowledge, Information and Research Center (KIR), Group Idewe, 3001 Louvain, Belgium
  • 5 Department of Physical Medicine and Physiotherapy, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
  • 6 Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
  • 7 Department of Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital,2650 Edegem, Belgium
  • 8 Center for Neurosciences (C4N), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), 1090 Brussels, Belgium
  • 9 Department of Radiology, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
  • 10 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 11 Department of Public Health (GEWE), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
Published Article
Journal of Clinical Medicine
Publication Date
May 18, 2020
DOI: 10.3390/jcm9051520
PMID: 32443565
PMCID: PMC7290436
PubMed Central


Background: Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and chronic whiplash associated disorders (cWAD) present a reduced ability to activate central descending nociceptive inhibition after exercise, compared to measurements before exercise. It was hypothesised that a dysfunctional motor-induced inhibition of nociception partly explains this dysfunctional exercise-induced hypoalgesia. This study investigates if engagement of the motor system during movement preparation inhibits nociception-evoked brain responses in these patients as compared to healthy controls (HC). Methods: The experiment used laser-evoked potentials (LEPs) during three conditions (no task, mental task, movement preparation) while recording brain activity with a 32-channel electroencephalogram in 21 patients with cWAD, 20 patients with CFS and 18 HC. Two-factor mixed design Analysis of variance were used to evaluate differences in LEP amplitudes and latencies. Results: No differences in N1, N2, N2P2, and P2 LEP amplitudes were found between the HC, CFS, and cWAD groups. After nociceptive stimulation, N1, N2 (only at hand location), N2P2, and P2 LEP amplitudes significantly decreased during movement preparation compared to no task (within group differences). Conclusion: Movement preparation induces a similar attenuation of LEPs in patients with CFS, patients with cWAD and HC. These findings do not support reduced motor-induced nociceptive inhibition in these patients.

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