Effectiveness of the physiotherapy interventions on complex regional pain syndrome in patients with stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2023 Jul:35:175-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2023.04.040. Epub 2023 Apr 29.


Background: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is an umbrella term for a variety of clinical presentations characterized by persistent pain usually in the hands or feet that is disproportionate to any preceding injury and characterized by many autonomic, sensory, and motor symptoms. CRPS is among the most common causes of post stroke shoulder pain in approximately 80% of stroke survivors. This study reviewed the available literature of physiotherapy treatment for CRPS following a stroke.

Methods: Two electronic databases; PubMed and Google Scholar were searched to screen the articles from 2008 to March 2021 to be included in the study. Meta-analysis was done using the RevMan version 5.4 software. Higgins I2 and Chi-square (Tau2) statistical tests were used to assess heterogeneity.

Results: Out of all 389 studies, only 4 RCT's were included for systematic review and meta-analysis. Mirror therapy, Laser therapy and Fluidotherapy was found to be effective than control in improving pain intensity (SMD 4.13, 95% CI 3.51 to 4.74, I2 = 99%) and functional independence (SMD 2.07, 95% CI 1.45 to 2.70, I2 = 100%) in patients with CRPS following stroke.

Conclusion: This review concluded that physiotherapy interventions in the form of exercise therapy and electrotherapy has proven to be effective in treating the symptoms of CRPS following stroke. This commonest and devastating condition has not been studied to an extent in clinical settings, there is an utmost need for further studies using the available literature.

Keywords: And stroke; Complex regional pain syndrome; Electrotherapy; Exercise therapy; Physiotherapy; Randomized controlled trials; Rehabilitation; Shoulder-hand syndrome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes* / therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Stroke* / complications