Management of long-term complex regional pain syndrome with allodynia: A case report

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Study design:Case report.Introduction:Conventional rehabilitation alone may not be effective in reducing symptoms in some patients with complex regional pain syndrome.Purpose of the study:This case report portrays the benefits of a new tailored rehabilitation program for a 39-year-old patient suffering from upper limb complex regional pain syndrome with severe touch-evoked pain (static mechanical allodynia).Methods:This patient had previously received conventional rehabilitation for a year and a half including physical and nonsurgical medical interventions that did not improve symptoms or function. In the search for an alternative, this patient was referred to occupational therapy to try a tailored rehabilitation program, drawing on multiple strategies used sequentially according to the patient's tolerance and symptom evolution. During this 22-month program, the following methods were added (listed chronologically): somatosensory rehabilitation of pain method, graded motor imagery, pain management modalities, active mobilizations, strengthening exercises, and task simulation. The patient successively showed resolution of mechanical allodynia, decreased pain, reduction of tactile hypesthesia and improvement in active range of motion, strength, and function. These improvements allowed him to return to work.Discussion:This suggests that a tailored rehabilitation program combining somatosensory rehabilitation of pain method, graded motor imagery and more conventional approaches could improve symptoms and functional status in patients with upper limb complex regional pain syndrome, even with persistent refractory symptoms.Conclusion:The addition of the somatosensory rehabilitation of pain method and the graded motor imagery approach to conventional therapy could be considered in cases of complex regional pain syndrome that do not respond to conventional rehabilitation alone.

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