Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a relatively new diagnostic entity in pediatrics. There is debate as to what constitutes the most effective treatment for pediatric CRPS. This study presents the patient characteristics, clinical course, and treatment outcome of 20 children diagnosed with CRPS at a major children's hospital during a 4-year period. The results showed that pediatric CRPS occurs predominantly in girls (90%) in later childhood and adolescence (mean age, 11.8 [range, 8-16 years]). It affects mainly the lower limbs (85%), with a predilection for the foot (75% of all cases), and was frequently initiated by minor trauma (80%). In many cases, there was a lengthy time to diagnosis (mean, 13.6 weeks) that delayed the institution of treatment, which consisted of intensive physiotherapy and psychological therapy. Most children (70%) required adjuvant medications (amitriptyline and/or gabapentin) for analgesia and to enable them to participate in physiotherapy. A high percentage of children had complete resolution of symptoms using this treatment regime (mean, 15.4 weeks [range, 3 days to 64 weeks]), but 40% required treatment as a hospital inpatient and 20% had a relapse episode. In conclusion, pediatric CRPS is under-recognized by clinicians, resulting in diagnostic delays, but has a favorable outcome to noninvasive treatment in that complete resolution of symptoms and signs occur in most patients. However, the lengthy period to achieve symptom resolution in some children and a high relapse rate support the need for further research into other treatment modalities.
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy