Distorted distance perception to reachable points in people with chronic shoulder pain
Alaiti, R., Harvie, D., Gasparin, G., de Sousa, m., Pompeu, j. et al
ABSTRACT: Perception is not simply a carbon copy of the real world, but is subject to distortions that may reflect protective drive. This study aimed to investigate whether people with chronic shoulder pain show perceptual distortions of space and body that may promote protective behavior. Eighty-four people with shoulder pain and 51 healthy controls participated. Participants estimated (1) distances to points on a cork-board within and outside reaching distance, and (2) the perceived length of their own arms. A novel measure of movement-related pain was also used to determine whether movement-related pain relates to perceptual distortion. Overall, distance and arm length estimates did not differ between groups, nor did participants perceive their arms to be of different length. However, a moderate correlation between movement-related pain and the index of distance perception was found within the pain group, specifically for distance estimates to points within reach. Our results suggest that distorted perception is not a typical consequence of chronic shoulder pain; however, that it may occur in cases where pain is strongly linked to movement. Our findings have implications for understanding avoidance of movement in people with persistent pain.