Current Issue - November/December 2013 - Vol 16 Issue 6


  1. 2013;16;581-591Objective Sensory Evaluation of the Spread of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
    Prospective Evaluation
    Lara Edinger, DO, Robert J. Schwartzman, MD, Ayesha Ahmad, BS, Kirsten Erwin, BS, and Guillermo M Alexander, PhD.

BACKGROUND: The spread of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) has been well documented. Many severe refractory long-standing patients have total body pain (TBP) that evolved from a single extremity injury.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to document by objective sensory threshold testing the extent of body area involvement in 20 long-standing patients with CRPS who have TBP.

STUDY DESIGN: A comparison of sensory threshold testing parameters between 20 long-standing refractory patients with CRPS who have TBP versus 10 healthy participants.

METHODS: Twenty patients with CRPS who stated that they suffered from total body pain were chosen from the Drexel University College of Medicine CRPS database. They were compared to 10 healthy participants that were age and gender matched to the patients with CRPS. The sensory parameters tested were: skin temperature; static and mechanical allodynia; thermal allodynia; mechanical hyperalgesia; after sensations following all sensory tests. The sites chosen for testing in the patients with CRPS were the most painful area in each of 8 body regions that comprised the total body area.

RESULTS: Five patients with CRPS had signs of CRPS over 100% of their body (20%). One patient had pain over 87% and another had pain over 90% of their body area. The average percentage of body involvement was 62% (range 37% – 100%). All patients with CRPS had at least one sensory parameter abnormality in all body regions. All patients with CRPS had lower pain thresholds for static allodynia in all body areas, while 50% demonstrated a lower threshold for dynamic allodynia in all body regions compared to the healthy participants. Cold allodynia had a higher median pain rating on the Likert pain scale in all body areas versus healthy participants except for the chest, abdomen, and back. Eighty-five percent of the patients with CRPS had a significantly lower pain threshold for mechanical hyperalgesia in all body areas compared to the healthy participants. After sensations occurred after all sensory parameters in the extremities in patients with CRPS.

LIMITATIONS:The primary limitations of this study would be the variability of self-reported data (each subject’s assessment of pain/ discomfort to a tested parameter) and the challenge to uniformly administer each parameter’s assessment since simple tools and not precision instruments were used (with the exception of skin temperature).

CONCLUSIONS: TBP and objective sensory loss occur in 20% of patients with refractory long-standing CRPS.