An exploration of the support person's perceptions and experiences of complex regional pain syndrome and the rehabilitation process

Musculoskeletal Care. 2011 Sep;9(3):169-79. doi: 10.1002/msc.211. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


We explored the perceptions and experiences of those who support a relative or friend with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a chronic pain condition of unknown aetiology usually affecting a single limb. Semi-structured interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, and four superordinate themes are presented here. These themes describe the efforts of carers to make sense of CRPS and the rehabilitation process, to be sensitive to the discomfort of the person with CRPS and to respond in an attuned and helpful way. CRPS had become integrated into the carers' lives as they sought to monitor, protect and motivate the person they supported. The themes are discussed in relation to each other and to extant literature, including work on social support and adjustment to chronic illness, and the clinical implications are explored.

Keywords: Pain; complex regional pain syndrome; interpretative phenomenological analysis; rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support*