To assess the validity of physician's judgements of symptoms associated with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1.
The validity of physicians' judgments was assessed using measurements with regard to presence and severity of pain, temperature and volume asymmetry, and reduction in active range of motion in 66 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 outpatients. Measurements were performed using Visual Analog Scales and McGill (number of words chosen total) for pain, infrared thermography for temperature differences, water displacement volumeters for volume differences, and hand-held goniometers for active range of motion. Physicians were blind to the outcomes of the measurements.
In general, physicians were capable of determining presence or absence of measured symptoms and indicate the direction of the symptom asymmetry. Establishing presence of temperature and volume asymmetries was, however, inadequate. Poor to moderate correspondence was found for the severity of individual symptoms between physicians' judgments and measurements. For the total number of assessments, correlation coefficients ranged from 0.39 for Volume to 0.68 for Pain. In general, lower correlations and percentages of association for Volume and Temperature were found. Monitoring changes between consecutive patient assessments showed poor correspondence between both assessment methods, with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.25 for Volume to 0.37 for Pain.
We conclude that establishing the presence of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 symptoms, except for temperature and volume asymmetries, and monitoring of disease progression based on these symptoms can be performed by clinical judgment. The severity of the individual symptoms evaluated in this study should be measured with reliable and valid measurement instruments.