Our goal was to ascertain the prevalence of widespread pain in our cohort of patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
We conducted a retrospective analysis of clinical letters and notes. We assessed data from consecutive patients diagnosed with CRPS according to the Budapest criteria, after a referral to one consultant at a tertiary Pain Medicine referral center.
Between July 2007 and September 2012, 190 patients (149 females) received a diagnosis of CRPS according to the Budapest criteria, and an additional 26 patients received the diagnosis of CRPS NOS (not otherwise specified). The CRPS patients were an average of 44 years of age, and had a median disease duration of 18 months. Before the CRPS incident trigger, a third had already experienced other than everyday pains in the now CRPS-affected limb. Twenty-one patients (11.1%) experienced widespread pain in clinic, which was often not communicated in the referral letters. The types of triggering traumata and frequencies of Budapest signs and symptoms did not differ between patients with or without widespread pain. All patients considered their widespread pain as an important factor affecting their quality of life; for the majority it was of similar severity to the CRPS pain. Additional patients reported CRPS-concomitant regional pains, most commonly headaches/migraines, lower back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In this systematic assessment of the incidence of widespread pain in a large cohort of patients with CRPS, important widespread pain affected > 10% of patients. Our data support the inclusion of routine enquiries about additional pains in the clinical assessment of patients with CRPS.