Some patients with long-standing, therapy-resistant type-I complex regional pain syndrome consider an amputation. There is a lack of evidence regarding the risk of recurrence of the pain syndrome and patient outcomes after amputation. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the impact of an amputation on pain, participation in daily life activities, and quality of life as well as the use of a prosthesis and the risk of recurrence of the pain syndrome in patients with long-standing, therapy-resistant type-I complex regional pain syndrome.Methods:
From May 2000 to October 2008, twenty-two patients underwent an amputation of a nonfunctional limb at our institution because of long-standing, therapy-resistant type-I complex regional pain syndrome. Twenty-one of these patients were included in our study. The median age was forty-six years (interquartile range [IQR], thirty-seven to fifty-one years), the median duration of the complex regional pain syndrome was six years (IQR, two to ten years), and the median interval between the amputation and the study was five years (IQR, three to seven years). A semistructured interview was conducted, physical examination of the residual limb was performed, and the patients completed two questionnaires.Results:
Twenty patients (95%) reported an improvement in their lives. Nineteen patients (90%) reported a reduction in pain, seventeen patients (81%) reported an improvement in mobility, and fourteen (67%) reported an improvement in sleep. Eighteen of the twenty-one patients stated that they would choose to undergo an amputation again under the same circumstances. Ten of the fifteen patients with a lower-limb amputation and one of the six with an upper-limb amputation regularly used a prosthesis. The type-I complex regional pain syndrome recurred in the residual limb of three patients (14%) and symptoms recurred in another limb in two patients (10%).Conclusions:
Amputation may positively contribute to the lives of patients with long-standing, therapy-resistant type-I complex regional pain syndrome. Patients were likely to use a prosthesis after a lower-limb amputation. The risk of recurrence of the type-I complex regional pain syndrome was 24%.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.