BACKGROUND: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) I is a debilitating neuropathic pain disorder characterized by burning pain and allodynia. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is effective in the treatment of CRPS I in the medium term but its long-term efficacy and ability to improve functional status remains controversial.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the ability of SCS to improve pain, functional status, and quality of life in the long term.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 25 patients over a mean follow-up period of 88 months. The parameters for evaluation were visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), EuroQoL-5D (EQ-5D) and Short Form 36 (SF-36), and drug consumption. Evaluations were conducted at point of entry, 3 months, 12 months, and last follow-up at 88 months (mean).
RESULTS: At baseline, the mean scores were VAS 8.4, ODI 70%, BDI 28, EQ-5D 0.30, and SF-36 24. In general, maximum improvement was recorded at follow-up at 3 months (VAS 4.8, ODI 45%, BDI 15, EQ-5D 0.57, and SF-36 45). At last follow-up, scores were 5.6, 50%, 19, 0.57, and 40, respectively. Despite some regression, at last follow-up benefits were maintained and found to be statistically significant (P < .001) compared with baseline. Medication usage declined. SCS did not prevent disease spread to other limbs. Best results were achieved in stage I CRPS I, patients under 40 years of age, and those receiving SCS within 1 year of disease onset.
CONCLUSION: SCS improves pain, quality of life, and functional status over the long term and consequently merits early consideration in the treatment continuum.
Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Regina General Hospital, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Received, April 29, 2010.
Accepted, February 2, 2011.
Published Online, March 24, 2011.
Correspondence: Krishna Kumar, MBBS, MS, Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Regina General Hospital, University of Saskatchewan, Regina SK, Canada S4P 0W5. E-mail: email@example.com