The study of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in humans is complicated by inhomogeneities in available study cohorts. We hoped to characterize early CRPS-like features in patients undergoing hand surgery. Forty-three patients were recruited from a hand surgery clinic that had elective surgeries followed by cast immobilization. On the day of cast removal, patients were assessed for vasomotor, sudomotor, and trophic changes, and edema and pain sensitization using quantitative sensory testing. Pain intensity was assessed at the time of cast removal and after 1 additional month, as was the nature of the pain using the Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs (LANSS). Skin biopsies were harvested for the analysis of expression of inflammatory mediators. We identified vascular and trophic changes in the surgical hands of most patients. Increased sensitivity to punctate, pressure, and cold stimuli were observed commonly as well. Moreover, levels of IL-6, TNF-alpha, and the mast cell marker tryptase were elevated in the skin of hands ipsilateral to surgery. Moderate-to-severe pain persisted in the surgical hands for up to 1 month after cast removal. Exploratory analyses suggested interrelationships between the physical, quantitative sensory testing, and gene expression changes and pain-related outcomes.This study has identified CPRS-like features in the limbs of patients undergoing surgery followed by immobilization. Further studies using this population may be useful in refining our understanding of CRPS mechanisms and treatments for this condition.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.01.004
View details for PubMedID 23453564