CRPS Bugle | July 2nd

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A selection of recent papers on complex regional pain syndrome – CRPS:

Clin J Pain. 2013 Jun 19

A Disturbance in Sensory Processing on the Affected Side of the Body Increases Limb Pain in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Drummond PD, Finch PM.


The aim of this study was to determine whether a central disturbance in somatosensory processing contributes to limb pain in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).


In 37 patients with CRPS, the effect of cooling the ipsilateral forehead on pain in the affected limb was compared with the effect of cooling the contralateral forehead. In addition, symptoms associated with cold-evoked limb pain were explored.


Limb pain generally increased when the ipsilateral side of the forehead was cooled but did not change when the contralateral side of the forehead was cooled. Increases were greatest in patients with heightened sensitivity to cold, brushing, and pressure-pain in the ipsilateral forehead, in patients with heightened sensitivity to pressure-pain in the limbs, and in patients with chronic symptoms. In contrast, sensitivity to light touch was diminished in the CRPS-affected limb of patients whose limb pain remained unchanged or decreased during ipsilateral forehead cooling.


These preliminary findings suggest that a central disturbance in sensory processing and pain modulation, which extends beyond the affected limb to the ipsilateral forehead, contributes to symptoms in a subgroup of patients with CRPS.


J Pain. 2013 Jun 18. 

Altered Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Bolwerk A, Seifert F, Maihöfner C.


This study explored the functional connectivity between brain regions implicated in the default mode network, the sensorimotor cortex (S1/M1), and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS/MIP) at rest in patients with complex regional pain syndrome. It also investigated how possible alterations are associated with neuropathic pain. Our group used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate functional brain connectivity in 12 complex regional pain syndrome patients in comparison with that in 12 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Data were analyzed using a seed voxel correlation analysis and an independent component analysis. An analysis of covariance was employed to relate alterations in functional connectivity with clinical symptoms. We found significantly greater reductions in functional default mode network connectivity in patients compared to controls. The functional connectivity maps of S1/M1 and IPS/MIP in patients revealed greater and more diffuse connectivity with other brain regions, mainly with the cingulate cortex, precuneus, thalamus, and prefrontal cortex. In contrast, controls showed greater intraregional connectivity within S1/M1 and IPS/MIP. Furthermore, there was a trend for correlation between alterations in functional connectivity and intensity of neuropathic pain. In our findings, patients with complex regional pain syndrome have substantial spatial alterations in the functional connectivity between brain regions implicated in the resting-state default mode network, S1/M1, and IPS/MIP; these alterations show a trend of correlation with neuropathic pain intensity.


This article presents spatial alterations in the functional resting-state connectivity of complex regional pain syndrome patients. Our results add further insight into the disease states of CRPS and into the functional architecture of the resting state brains of pain patients in general.


Pain Pract. 2013 Jun 24

Widespread Pain in Patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Birley T, Goebel A.



Our goal was to ascertain the prevalence of widespread pain in our cohort of patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).


We conducted a retrospective analysis of clinical letters and notes. We assessed data from consecutive patients diagnosed with CRPS according to the Budapest criteria, after a referral to one consultant at a tertiary Pain Medicine referral center.


Between July 2007 and September 2012, 190 patients (149 females) received a diagnosis of CRPS according to the Budapest criteria, and an additional 26 patients received the diagnosis of CRPS NOS (not otherwise specified). The CRPS patients were an average of 44 years of age, and had a median disease duration of 18 months. Before the CRPS incident trigger, a third had already experienced other than everyday pains in the now CRPS-affected limb. Twenty-one patients (11.1%) experienced widespread pain in clinic, which was often not communicated in the referral letters. The types of triggering traumata and frequencies of Budapest signs and symptoms did not differ between patients with or without widespread pain. All patients considered their widespread pain as an important factor affecting their quality of life; for the majority it was of similar severity to the CRPS pain. Additional patients reported CRPS-concomitant regional pains, most commonly headaches/migraines, lower back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.


In this systematic assessment of the incidence of widespread pain in a large cohort of patients with CRPS, important widespread pain affected > 10% of patients. Our data support the inclusion of routine enquiries about additional pains in the clinical assessment of patients with CRPS.




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