Extent of recovery in the first 12 months of complex regional pain syndrome type-1: A prospective study

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The literature concerning the outcomes of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is contradictory, with some studies suggesting high rates of symptom resolution, whilst others demonstrate that CRPS symptoms can persist and lead to significant disability. The aim of the present study was to carefully document the extent of recovery from each of the signs and symptoms of CRPS.


A sample of 59 patients with recently onset (<12 weeks) CRPS-1 were followed prospectively for 1 year, during which time they received treatment-as-usual. At baseline, 6 and 12 months, the following were measured: CRPS severity scores (symptoms and signs of CRPS), pain, disability, work status and psychological functioning.


Analyses showed that rates of almost all signs and symptoms of CRPS reduced significantly over 1 year. Reductions in symptom severity were clinically relevant and were greatest in the first 6 months and plateaued thereafter. However, at 1 year, nearly 2/3 of patients continued to meet the IASP-Orlando criteria for CRPS and 1/4 met the Budapest research criteria for CRPS. Only 5.4% of patients were symptom-free at 12 months.


Overall the results were less optimistic than several previously conducted prospective studies and suggest that few cases of CRPS resolve completely within 12 months of onset. Improvements were generally greater in the first 6 months, and suggest that it may be worth exploring early interventions to prevent long-term disability in CRPS.

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