Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a devastating posttraumatic neuroinflammatory condition with both autoinflammatory and autoimmune features, characterized by unrelenting severe pain and disability, with the majority of affected patients being unable to function socially or vocationally. Remission is more likely in children than adults, and if treatment is started early. Once established, there are no universally effective treatments, and these are desperately needed. A single limb is often involved, but there can be multi-limb spread, and systemic autonomic manifestations. We describe a case of long-standing CRPS with multi-limb spread and systemic autonomic features, controlled only with very high dose oral corticosteroids, which led to several complications. Multiple other treatment modalities failed or were insufficient to control the CRPS and allow tapering of the corticosteroids, but the patient had a dramatic response to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), allowing a reduction in prednisone dose to just over the physiologic range. When symptoms started to increase several months later, a second course of HBOT treatments allowed reduction in prednisone dose into the physiologic range while still controlling CRPS symptoms. This case is unique in that it shows that HBOT can be effective in long-standing CRPS, both initially, and for subsequent flares, and adds to the evidence supporting HBOT as a potential treatment for this condition. Graphical Abstract HBOT effect on prednisone dose for symptom control.
Keywords: Complex regional pain syndrome; Hyperbaric oxygen.