Evidence for local inflammation in complex regional pain syndrome type 1

Mediators Inflamm. 2002 Feb;11(1):47-51. doi: 10.1080/09629350210307.


Background: The pathophysiology of complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS 1) is still a matter of debate. Peripheral afferent, efferent and central mechanisms are supposed. Based on clinical signs and symptoms (e.g. oedema, local temperature changes and chronic pain) local inflammation is suspected.

Aim: To determine the involvement of neuropetides, cytokines and eicosanoids as locally formed mediators of inflammation.

Methods: In this study, nine patients with proven CRPS 1 were included. Disease activity and impairment was determined by means of a Visual Analogue Scale, the McGill Pain Questionnaire, the difference in volume and temperature between involved and uninvolved extremities, and the reduction in active range of motion of the involved extremity. Venous blood was sampled from and suction blisters made on the involved and uninvolved extremities for measurement of cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, II-1beta and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), the neuropetides NPY and CRGP, and prostaglandin E2

Results: The patients included in this study did have a moderate to serious disease activity and impairment. In plasma, no changes of mediators of inflammation were observed. In blister fluid, however, significantly higher levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha in the involved extremity were observed in comparison with the uninvolved extremity.

Conclusions: This is the first time that involvement of mediators of inflammation in CRPS 1 has been so clearly and directly demonstrated. This observation opens new approaches for the succesful use and development of immunosuppressives in CRPS 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blister / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / analysis
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / etiology*


  • Inflammation Mediators