Background: Specific criteria have been described and accepted worldwide for diagnosing patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Nevertheless, a clear-cut diagnosis cannot be confirmed in a number of cases. Aim: The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the described diagnostic criteria used by several clinical disciplines. Methods: We included 195 patients who were referred to our pain clinic within a period of 1 year. Data were collected on patient characteristics, signs, symptoms, disease-related medication, and the background of the referring clinicians. Results: The Harden and Bruehl criteria were confirmed in 95 patients (49%). These patients used a higher than average number of analgesics, opiates, and anti-oxidants, and frequently received prescriptions for benzodiazepines instead of anti-depressants. The mean disease duration was 29 ± 4.6 months and the mean visual analogue score for pain was 8.1 ± 0.19. A subgroup of patients had a colder temperature in the affected extremity compared with the unaffected extremity. This subgroup showed a longer disease duration and higher visual analogue scale pain. Conclusion: The diagnostic criteria used to determine CRPS should be further improved. A large number of referred patients experienced substantial pain, without receiving adequate medication. Disease-related medication is unrelated to CRPS-specific disease activity. Knowledge of underlying mechanisms is warranted before an adequate pharmaceutical intervention can be considered.

Additional Metadata
Keywords adult, analgesic agent, antidepressant agent, antioxidant, anxiolytic agent, article, benzodiazepine derivative, cold, complex regional pain syndrome, controlled study, corticosteroid, diagnostic accuracy, disease duration, female, human, hypnotic agent, immunosuppressive agent, inflammation, limb, major clinical study, male, muscle relaxant agent, myofascial pain, neuropathic pain, nonsteroid antiinflammatory agent, opiate derivative, outpatient department, physical examination, physiotherapy, prescription, priority journal, skin surface, skin temperature, symptom, vascular disease, vasodilator agent, visual analog scale
Persistent URL,
van Bodegraven Hof, E.A.M., Groeneweg, J.G., Wesseldijk, F., Huygen, F.J.P.M., & Zijlstra, F.J.. (2010). Diagnostic criteria in patients with complex regional pain syndrome assessed in an out-patient clinic. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica: an international journal of anaesthesiology and intensive care, pain and emergency medicine, 54(7), 894–899. doi:10.1111/j.1399-6576.2010.02251.x