Complex regional pain syndrome type 1: Analysis of 108 patients

Reumatol Clin. 2017 Mar-Apr;13(2):73-77. doi: 10.1016/j.reuma.2016.03.015. Epub 2016 Apr 28.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type 1 is characterized by the presence of pain, edema, functional impotence, impaired mobility, trophic changes, vasomotor instability and bone demineralization.

Material and methods: We carried out a retrospective and prospective, descriptive, observational study of 108 patients over 18 years of age with suspected CRPS who met Doury's criteria. We recorded demographic data, clinical characteristics, comorbidities, previous predisposing conditions and triggering factors, such as injury or fracture. We evaluated laboratory data, serial plain X-rays, 3-phase bone scintigraphy with technetium 99 and bone density scan, as well as drug treatment, rehabilitation and disease course.

Results: In all, 89% of the 108 patients were women with an average age of 54.8±12.4 years. The time between the onset of the symptoms and the first visit to a physician was 3.1 months. The most common triggering factor was injury (91.7%). The most frequent psychological factor was anxiety (42.6%). All the patients reported pain and 99.07% had impaired mobility. The most frequently affected part of the body was the hand (75%; 81/108 patients) followed by the shoulder, in the shoulder-hand syndrome. All the patients had serial X-rays and changes were observed in 93.5%. Three-phase bone scintigraphy revealed evidence of disease in all 32 of the patients who underwent this study. Bone density scanning was performed in 54 patients (50%). All the patients were treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, mainly diclofenac (60%). Calcium therapy was initiated in 106 patients (98.2%) and vitamin D3 therapy in 97.2%. All the patients received bisphosphonates, primarily alendronate and ibandronate (67.6% and 27.8%, respectively). Thirty-six patients (33.3%) received corticosteroids. All of the evaluated patients underwent rehabilitation involving occupational therapy. The average time to recovery was 6.31 months (range, 4-24). The outcome was favorable in 88.9% of the patients.

Conclusion: This paper describes the clinical characteristics, therapeutic features and outcome of CRPS type 1 in 108 patients. This syndrome is known to be heterogeneous, and does not always present with the well-known symptoms. We recommend establishing a differential diagnosis including other infectious and inflammatory conditions, and point out the importance of early referral, which enables early treatment.

Keywords: Complex regional pain syndrome; Estudio prospectivo; Prospective; Retrospective study; Retrospectivo; Sudeck; Síndrome doloroso regional complejo.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy* / diagnosis
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy* / etiology
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome