Introduction We hypothesized that patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) would describe a more negative pain phenotype including higher pain severity, more neuropathic pain descriptors, more centralized pain symptoms, poorer physical function, and more affective distress when compared with patients with neuropathic pain of the extremities not meeting CRPS criteria.
Materials and methods This was a retrospective cross-sectional study conducted at a tertiary pain center. The sample included 212 patients who met Budapest Criteria for CRPS and 175 patients with neuropathic pain of the extremities who did not meet criteria. All patients completed a packet of questionnaires before their initial visit containing validated outcome measures assessing pain severity, pain interference, physical functioning, depression, anxiety, and catastrophizing.
Results Patients with CRPS reported higher physical disability (p=0.022) and more neuropathic pain symptoms (p=0.002) than patients not meeting CRPS criteria, but the groups did not otherwise differ significantly. There were no significant differences in pain severity or affective distress, despite power analyses suggesting the ability to detect small to medium effect sizes (d=0.29; w=0.14). Subanalyses of differences in neuropathic pain symptoms revealed that patients with CRPS, compared with patients not meeting CRPS criteria, were more likely to report pain with light touch (p=0.003), sudden pain attacks (p=0.003), pain with cold or heat (p=0.002), sensation of numbness (p=0.042), and pain with slight pressure (p=0.018).
Discussion Counter to our hypothesis, the present study suggests that patients with CRPS do not have a worse clinical phenotype compared with patients not meeting CRPS criteria, with the exception of higher physical disability and more neuropathic pain symptoms. This corresponds to recent evidence that patients with CRPS are similar to other patient populations with chronic pain.
- neuropathic pain
- physical function
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