The Treatment of Longstanding Complex Regional Pain Syndrome with Oral Steroids

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Evaluate the effectiveness of oral steroids in relieving pain in patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) of more than 3 months duration.


Service evaluation/Open label uncontrolled trial.


Two pain outpatient clinics specialized in CRPS diagnosis and treatment in the period 2009–2012.


Thirty-one patients diagnosed with CRPS with the Budapest criteria in two specialized centers, with a disease duration of more than 3 months and not responsive to standard treatment were included.


Patients were treated with oral prednisolone in both centers [100 mg daily tapered by 25 mg every 4 days to zero (Σ1g) at center 1 (C1) and 60 mg daily for 2 weeks lowered 20 mg every 4 days to zero (Σ1.06g) at center 2 (C2)]. The average pain intensity was recorded by patients using a numeric rating scale before the treatment start, and 6 weeks after treatment onset (treatment duration was respectively 16 days and 22 days at the two centers).


Overall the authors observed no significant reduction in the average pain intensity (P= 0.059), but 2 patients had a consistent reduction in pain intensity with return to baseline pain levels 9 weeks after treatment onset, and 1 patient had ongoing stable pain relief of >50%.


This study provides indications that the efficacy of oral corticosteroids is limited in treating CRPS of more than 3 months duration who did not respond to previous treatment. Randomized controlled studies (with enriched designs), or single subject designs would be required to identify the possible existence of a patient subgroup with a specific disease profile that may benefit from a steroid treatment.

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