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Complex regional pain syndrome in children: incidence and clinical characteristics
  1. Hashem Abu-Arafeh1,2,
  2. Ishaq Abu-Arafeh2
  1. 1University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert, Stirlingshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ishaq Abu-Arafeh, Department of Paediatrics, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert, Stirlingshire FK5 4WR, UK; iabu-arafeh{at}


Objective To study the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in children.

Patients and methods All children and adolescents under 16 years of age with a new diagnosis of CRPS who were reported to the Scottish Paediatric Surveillance Unit were included. Patients’ recruitment ran between 1 November 2011 and 31 October 2015. Information was collected on patients’ demography, clinical features, investigations, management and impact of disease on child and family. The diagnosis of CRPS was made on fulfilling the clinical criteria of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Results 26 cases of CRPS were reported over 4 years, giving a minimum estimated incidence of 1.16/100 000 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.44/100 000) children 5–15 years of age. Nineteen patients were female (73%) and mean age at diagnosis was 11.9 (range 5.5–15.4 years). The median interval between onset of symptoms and diagnosis was 2 months (range 1–12). The majority of children have single site involvement, with legs been more often affected than arms and the right side is more often affected than the left. There was a clear trauma at onset of the illness in 19 children and possible nerve injury in one. All investigations were normal and several treatment modalities were used with variable success. The disease had significant impacts on the patients’ education and family lives.

Conclusions The estimated incidence of CRPS is 1.2/100 000 children 5–15 years old. The diagnosis of CRPS is often delayed. CRPS has a significant impact on children and their families.

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Adolescents
  • Incidence
  • Causalgia

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