Resilience in patients with amputation because of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome type I

Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(10):838-43. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2013.822023. Epub 2013 Aug 9.


Purpose: Although controversial, an amputation for longstanding and therapy-resistant Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (CRPS-I) may improve quality of life and pain intensity. Resilience, the way people deal with adversity in a positive way may be related to these positive outcomes. This study focused on the relationship between resilience and post-amputation outcomes, i.e. quality of life, pain and recurrence of CRPS-I and psychological distress.

Method: Twenty-six patients with an amputation related to CRPS-I filled in the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), World Health Organisation -- Quality of life Assessment (WHOQOL-Bref) and the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90-R). An interview was conducted and a physical examination performed. Results were compared with reference groups from literature and a control group from the outpatient rehabilitation clinic at our medical center.

Results: Resilience correlated significantly with all domains of the WHOQOL-Bref (ρ ranged from 0.41 to 0.72) and negatively with all domains of the SCL-90-R (ρ ranged from -0.39 to -0.68). Patients with an amputation because of CRPS-I have higher scores on resilience and quality of life than the control group. Resilience was lower in patients who reported CRPS-I symptoms compared to those who did not.

Conclusions: The results confirmed our hypothesis that patients with an amputation because of CRPS-I who have a higher resilience also have a higher quality of life and experience lower psychological distress. The prognostic value of resilience in this patient group requires further research. Implications for Rehabilitation Until characteristics of patients with positive quality of life outcome have been further unraveled, amputation for CRPS-I should only be performed in expertise centers. Resilience, the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, should be further explored in Rehabilitation Medicine research in general. Measurement of resilience should be a standard procedure when patients with CRPS-I request an amputation. Improving resilience of patients in in- and outpatient rehabilitation clinics might be an additional treatment in rehabilitation care.

Keywords: Amputation; complex regional pain syndrome; prognostic relevance; resilience.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Amputation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Prognosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / rehabilitation*
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome