It was previously shown in a group of 9 patients with complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS1) that levels of the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are higher in blister fluid from the involved side. We hypothesize that local inflammation is responsible for the characteristics of CRPS1. The aim of this study was to confirm the previous observation in a large group of CRPS1 patients, repeating the measurement of TNF-α and IL-6 in blister fluid. Furthermore, we sought to determine whether these cytokines are responsible for the characteristics of CRPS1 and characterize the relationship between cytokine levels and duration of the disease. Sixty-six patients with CRPS1 participated. Skin blisters were artificially induced for measurement of cytokines in both extremities. The following disease characteristics were assessed: pain and differences in temperature, volume, and mobility between the extremities. TNF-α and IL-6 levels were significantly higher in blister fluid from the involved side. However, cytokine levels did not correlate with the characteristics or duration of the disease. Our findings confirm the presence of local inflammation in a population of 66 patients in the first 2 years of CRPS1. Proinflammatory cytokines seem to be only partly involved in the pathophysiology of CRPS1, as indicated by the lack of coherence between TNF-α and IL-6 levels and the signs and symptoms of inflammation and disease duration. Other inflammatory mediators and mechanisms, such as central sensitization, are probably involved in the early stages of CRPS1.

CRPS1, Edema, IL-6, Inflammation, TNF-α, Temperature,
European Journal of Pain
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Wesseldijk, F, Huygen, F.J.P.M, Heijmans-Antonissen, C, Niehof, S.P, & Zijlstra, F.J. (2008). Tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 are not correlated with the characteristics of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome type 1 in 66 patients. European Journal of Pain, 12(6), 716–721. doi:10.1016/j.ejpain.2007.10.010