INTRODUCTION: Primary motor cortical (M1) adaptation in the form of altered organisation and function is hypothesised to underpin motor dysfunction observed in chronic pain. The aim of this review is to assess the evidence for altered M1 organisation and function in chronic pain.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Systematic review and meta-analysis. We will search electronic databases with predetermined search terms to identify relevant studies and evaluate the studies for inclusion and risks of bias. Two independent reviewers will extract data. Any disagreement will be resolved through a third reviewer. Cross-sectional or prospective studies published in English before May 2015 that investigate M1 organisation and function in chronic pain will be included if they meet the eligibility criteria. Primary outcomes will include M1 cortical excitability, spatial cortical representation, the function of inhibitory and facilitatory intracortical networks, cortical reactivity and cortical glucose metabolism. Clinical measures such as pain and disability will be included where the correlation with the primary outcomes of M1 organisation and function were investigated in the included studies.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This systematic review does not require ethical approval. The results of this review will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication regardless of outcome and will be presented at relevant conferences.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: Our systematic review protocol was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO; registration number CRD42015014823).