RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Spinal cord stimulation in complex regional pain syndrome type I of less than 12-month duration.

INTRODUCTION: Complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS-1) has a 31% probability of becoming chronic. The early use of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been recommended as a strategy to prevent chronicity and functional impairment.

METHODS: In a prospective study, we treated 74 CRPS-1 patients with a mean disease duration of 17 weeks with standard therapy consisting of physical therapy, topical dimethyl sulfoxide, analgesics, transcutaneous stimulation, and sympathetic blockade. Patients who did not respond to standard therapy were offered a treatment with SCS. In these patients, we investigated the impact on pain, quality of life, and function.

RESULTS: Out of these 74 patients treated with standard therapy, six patients were included for early SCS treatment. The overall mean pain relief after one year was 35%. The mental component of the Short Form 36 improved; however, there was no effect on the physical component. None of the SCS treated patients showed a clear improvement in functional outcome.

DISCUSSION: We conclude that the feasibility of performing a randomized controlled trial on early SCS therapy in CRPS-1 is low because of the good disease improvement with standard therapy in the first year after onset. This study raises questions about the need to use SCS early in the course of CRPS-1 because of the probable lack of additional benefit compared with SCS in chronic CRPS-1.

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