Impact of upper limb complex regional pain syndrome type 1 on everyday life measured with a novel upper limb-activity monitor.
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Complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS1) often leads to serious activity limitations in everyday life. To date, however, limitations in patients with CRPS1 of an upper limb have not been objectively measured.Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the long-term impact of upper limb CRPS1 on general mobility and upper limb usage during everyday life, as measured with a novel upper limb-activity monitor (ULAM). In ten female chronic CRPS1 patients and ten healthy control subjects, 24-h activity patterns were measured with the ULAM. This ULAM consists of body-fixed acceleration sensors, connected to a recorder worn around the waist. The ULAM automatically detects upper limb activity during mobility-related activities. Several outcome measures related to general mobility and upper limb usage were compared between patients and controls. The results showed that CRPSI in the dominant upper limb had modest impact on general mobility; i.e. on the percentages spent in body positions and body motions and on mean intensity of body activity. For upper limb usage outcome measures during sitting, there was a marked difference between CRPS1 patients and controls. Especially patients with dominant side involvement clearly showed less activity of their involved limb during sitting, indicated by significant differences for the mean intensity (P=0.014), percentage (P=0.004), and proportion (P=0.032) of upper limb activity. It is concluded that these ten chronic CRPS1 patients still had limitations in upper limb usage during everyday life, 3.7 years (average) after the causative event.