Sympathetic blocks are used in the diagnosis and treatment planning of patients with complex regional pain syndromeIt is unclear whether the response to sympathetic blocks is associated with spinal cord stimulation trial success WHAT THIS ARTICLE TELLS US THAT IS NEW: In patients with complex regional pain syndrome, skin temperature change is not associated with sympathetic block pain reductionThe short- and long-term effects of sympathetic blocks are not associated with spinal cord stimulation outcomes BACKGROUND:: Sympathetic dysfunction may be present in complex regional pain syndrome, and sympathetic blocks are routinely performed in practice. To investigate the therapeutic and predictive values of sympathetic blocks, the authors test the hypotheses that sympathetic blocks provide analgesic effects that may be associated with the temperature differences between the two extremities before and after the blocks and that the effects of sympathetic blocks may predict the success (defined as achieving more than 50% pain reduction) of spinal cord stimulation trials.The authors performed a retrospective study of 318 patients who underwent sympathetic blocks in a major academic center (2009 to 2016) to assess the association between pain reduction and preprocedure temperature difference between the involved and contralateral limbs. The primary outcome was pain improvement by more than 50%, and the secondary outcome was duration of more than 50% pain reduction per patient report. The authors assessed the association between pain reduction and the success rate of spinal cord stimulation trials.Among the 318 patients, 255 were diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome and others with various sympathetically related disorders. Successful pain reduction (more than 50%) was observed in 155 patients with complex regional pain syndrome (155 of 255, 61%). The majority of patients (132 of 155, 85%) experienced more than 50% pain relief for 1 to 4 weeks or longer. The degree and duration of pain relief were not associated with preprocedure temperature parameters with estimated odds ratio of 1.03 (97.5% CI, 0.95-1.11) or 1.01 (97.5% CI, 0.96-1.06) for one degree decrease (P = 0.459 or 0.809). There was no difference in the success rate of spinal cord stimulation trials between patients with or without more than 50% pain relief after sympathetic blocks (35 of 40, 88% vs. 26 of 29, 90%, P > 0.990).The authors conclude that sympathetic blocks may be therapeutic in patients with complex regional pain syndrome regardless of preprocedure limb temperatures. The effects of sympathetic blocks do not predict the success of spinal cord stimulation.
View details for DOI 10.1097/ALN.0000000000002899
View details for PubMedID 31365367