Mechanism-specific rehabilitation management of complex regional pain syndrome: Proposed recommendations from evidence synthesis

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Study Design:

Narrative review.


There are a variety of treatments with demonstrated effectiveness for the management of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). However given the variability in symptom presentation in this population, therapists may be unsure what treatments would be most effective for individual clients.

Purpose of the Study:

To present a brief synthesis of the literature and propose a rehabilitation version of a mechanism-specific management algorithm to guide personalized treatment of CRPS.


A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify all randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and clinical practice guidelines addressing rehabilitation of CRPS. Results were reviewed independently by 2 reviewers and final selection of articles was reached by consensus, Data was extracted using standardized forms, and a single rater gave quality ratings. Both reviewers then used the extracted data to present a synthesis of the evidence categorized by the proposed mechanisms of effect.


A total of 111 articles were retrieved and reviewed for inclusion; 49 were selected for data extraction. A synthesis of the key recommendations was compiled into a rehabilitation-specific version of the mechanism-based management algorithm proposed by Gierthmühlen et al (2014).


Consideration of mechanism-appropriate rehabilitation interventions may assist therapists to select the most appropriate and effective treatments from the body of evidence supporting rehabilitation of CRPS.

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