Explicit and implicit Own’s body and space perception in painful musculoskeletal disorders and rheumatic diseases: A systematic scoping review

Antonello Viceconti, Eleonora Maria Camerone, Deborah Luzzi, Debora Pentassuglia, Matteo Pardini, Diego Ristori, Giacomo Rossettini, Alberto Gallace, Matthew R. Longo, Marco Testa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pain and body perception are essentially two subjective mutually influencing experiences. However, in the field ofmusculoskeletal disorders and rheumatic diseases we lack of a comprehensive knowledge about the relationship between body perception dysfunctions and pain or disability. We systematically mapped the literature published about the topics of: (a) somatoperception; (b) body ownership; and (c) perception of space, analysing the relationship with pain and disability. The results were organized around the two main topics of the assessment and treatment of perceptual dysfunctions. Methods: This scoping review followed the six-stage methodology suggested by Arksey and O’Malley. Ten electronic databases and grey literature were systematically searched. The PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews was used for reporting results. Two reviewers with different background, independently performed study screening and selection, and one author performed data extraction, that was checked by a second reviewer. Results: Thirty-seven studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria. The majority of studies (68%) concerned the assessmentmethodology, and the remaining 32%investigated the effects of therapeutic interventions. Research designs, methodologies adopted, and settings varied considerably across studies. Evidence of distorted body experience were found mainly for explicit somatoperception, especially in studies adopting self-administered questionnaire and subjective measures, highlighting in some cases the presence of sub-groups with different perceptual features. Almost half of the intervention studies (42%) provided therapeutic approaches combining more than one perceptual task, or sensory-motor tasks together with perceptual strategies, thus it was difficult to estimate the relative effectiveness of each single therapeutic component. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to systematically map and summarize this research area in the field of musculoskeletal disorders and rheumatic diseases. Although methodological limitations limit the validity of the evidence obtained, some strategies of assessment tested and therapeutic strategies proposed represent useful starting points for future research. This review highlights preliminary evidence, strengths, and limitations of the literature published about the research questions, identifying key points that remain opened to be addressed, and make suggestions for future research studies. Body representation, as well as pain perception and treatment, can be better understood if an enlarged perspective including body and space perception is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Apr 9 2020


  • Body ownership
  • Body perception
  • Body representation
  • Chronic pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Scoping review
  • Somatoperception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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