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Spinal cord stimulation in complex regional pain syndrome: cervical and lumbar devices are comparably effective.

BACKGROUND: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used since 1967 for the treatment of patients with chronic pain. However, long-term effects of this treatment have not been reported. The present study investigated the long-term effects of cervical and lumbar SCS in patients with complex regional pain syndrome type I.

METHODS: Thirty-six patients with a definitive implant were included in this study. A pain diary was obtained from all patients before treatment and 6 months and 1 and 2 years after implantation. All patients were asked to complete a seven-point Global Perceived Effect (GPE) scale and the Euroqol-5D (EQ-5D) at each post-implant assessment point.

RESULTS: The pain intensity was reduced at 6 months, 1 and 2 years after implantation (P<0.05). However, the repeated measures ANOVA showed a statistically significant, linear increase in the visual analogue scale score (P=0.03). According to the GPE, at least 42% of the cervical SCS patients and 47% of the lumbar SCS patients reported at least 'much improvement'. The health status of the patients, as measured on the EQ-5D, was improved after treatment (P<0.05). This improvement was noted both from the social and from the patients' perspective. Complications and adverse effects occurred in 64% of the patients and consisted mainly of technical defects. There were no differences between cervical and lumbar groups with regard to outcome measures.

CONCLUSION: SCS reduced the pain intensity and improves health status in the majority of the CRPS I patients in this study. There was no difference in pain relief and complications between cervical and lumbar SCS.

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