An update on the pharmacotherapeutic options for complex regional pain syndrome

Iolascon G, Snichelotto F, Moretti A.
An update on the pharmacotherapeutic options for complex regional pain syndrome.
Expert Rev Neurother. 2024 Feb;24(2):177-190. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2024.2307490. Epub 2024 Feb 6. PMID: 38241139.

Abstract

Introduction: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare and painful condition that has a wide range of triggering factors, often traumatic, and can present various clinical manifestations. The lack of knowledge about the underlying mechanisms has led to numerous treatment approaches, both conservative and surgical, which work through different mechanisms of action.

Areas covered: In this review, the authors explore the key aspects of CRPS, including definition, diagnostic criteria, pitfalls, pathogenic hypotheses, and treatment strategies with a focus on pharmacotherapy. The review was based on a comprehensive search of the literature using PubMed, while also considering international guidelines for managing CRPS.

Expert opinion: Based on the available evidence, pharmacological interventions appear to be effective in treating CRPS, especially when they target peripheral mechanisms, specifically nociceptive inflammatory pain, and when administered early in the course of the disease. However, there is still a lack of reliable evidence regarding the effects of drugs on central mechanisms of chronic pain in CRPS. In our expert opinion, drug therapy should be initiated as soon as possible, particularly in warm CRPS patient clusters, to prevent significant functional limitations, psychological distress, and negative impacts on individuals' social and economic well-being.

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