Improvement in Health-Related Quality of Life With Spinal Cord Stimulation in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Single-Center, Retrospective Study

Neuromodulation. 2024 Jun 3:S1094-7159(24)00080-1. doi: 10.1016/j.neurom.2024.04.008. Online ahead of print.


Background: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can profoundly affect many aspects of everyday life. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a potential therapeutic option. This retrospective, single-site evaluation explored health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in individuals with CRPS treated with SCS in our Pain Service.

Materials and methods: All patients aged ≥18 years with fully implanted SCS for CRPS between June 2013 and January 2023 were identified from hospital records. The following data were collected: sex, age, chronic pain diagnosis, CRPS type (I or II), location of CRPS (upper or lower limb), years of CRPS before first SCS implant, SCS system, preimplant and follow-up scores for HRQoL (euroqol 5 dimensions 3 levels [EQ-5D-3L] index score), average pain, worst pain and the influence of pain on aspects of everyday life (all numerical rating scale [NRS]), patient and clinician global impression of change at follow-up, and the occurrence and reasons for revisions and explants. An intention-to-treat approach was used and data statistically analyzed.

Results: The final cohort comprised 83 patients (46 women), with a median (minimum, maximum) follow-up duration of 29 months (seven, 72). There were statistically and clinically significant improvements in HRQoL, despite relatively low pain response rates. The pain response rate was 34% (reduction of ≥30% in average pain NRS); the pain remission rate was 13% (average pain score ≤3 NRS), and all patients had preimplant EQ-5D-3L index values below the population norm of 0.82. However, 60% of patients reported EQ-5D-3L index scores greater than the published minimally important difference of 0.074, and scores were better at follow-up than at preimplant (p < 0.001); 44% of patients and 41% of clinicians reported improved symptoms at the most recent follow-up. Explants occurred in eight of 83 patients (10%).

Conclusions: Patients had meaningful improvements in HRQoL, which is a key outcome in ascertaining the overall outcome of SCS in CRPS. Randomized controlled clinical trials should build on the findings to improve understanding of the benefits and risks of treating CRPS with SCS.

Keywords: complex regional pain syndrome; explants; health-related quality of life; revisions; spinal cord stimulation.