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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome of the Pediatric Lower Extremity

A Retrospective Review

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  • 1 Section of Podiatry, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL. Dr. Carlson is now with the Department of Podiatric Surgery, OSF Holy Family Medical Center, Monmouth, IL.
  • | 2 Private practice, Westchester, IL.
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Background:

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type 1 is a disorder of the extremities characterized by pain, edema, limited range of motion, integument changes, and vasomotor instability often after an inciting event. In the pediatric population, CRPS may be misdiagnosed, or missed entirely, as CRPS literature for this patient population is lacking.

Methods:

Twenty-seven pediatric patient medical records with the diagnosis of CRPS type 1 from the institutional and private practices of the principal investigator (E.J.H.) were reviewed for demographics, inciting event, lower-extremity clinical examination, ancillary testing, previous treatments, time to diagnosis, treatment after diagnosis, and time to resolution of symptoms.

Results:

Females composed 85.2% of the patient population (n = 23) (mean age of females, 11.11 years). An inciting event preceded pain in 74.1% of patients (n = 20). On physical examination, more than 50% of patients were identified as having changes in skin color and temperature, edema to the affected lower extremity, painful or decreased range of motion in affected joints, and intact lower-extremity motor function. The average time to resolution of symptoms was 6.8 weeks for the entire population.

Conclusions:

Diagnosis of CRPS type 1 should be considered in a preadolescent female complaining of pain out of proportion after an inciting event with a physical examination demonstrating change in skin color, decrease in skin temperature, edema, and painful or diminished range of motion in affected joints. Prompt diagnosis can decrease the time to resolution of symptoms. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 102(2): 99–104, 2012)

Corresponding author: Russell M. Carlson, DPM, Department of Podiatric Surgery, OSF Holy Family Medical Center, 1000 W. Harlem Ave. Monmouth, IL 61462. (E-mail: russell.carlson32@gmail.com)