Is poststroke complex regional pain syndrome the combination of shoulder pain and soft tissue injury of the wrist?: A prospective observational study STROBE of ultrasonographic findings in complex regional pain syndrome

Kim, Yong Wook; Kim, Yoon; Kim, Jong Moon; Hong, Ji Seong; Lim, Hyun-Sun; Kim, Hyoung Seop

Patients with poststroke complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) show different symptoms compared to other types of CRPS, as they usually complain of shoulder and wrist pain with the elbow relatively spared. It is thus also known by the term “shoulder-hand syndrome.”

The aim of this study is to present a possible pathophysiology of poststroke CRPS through ultrasonographic observation of the affected wrist before and after steroid injection at the extensor digitorum communis (EDC) tendon in patients suspected with poststroke CRPS.

Prospective evaluation and observation, the STROBE guideline checklist was used.

Twenty-three patients diagnosed as poststroke CRPS in accordance to clinical criteria were enrolled. They had a Three Phase Bone Scan (TPBS) done and the cross-sectional area (CSA) of EDC tendon was measured by using ultrasonography. They were then injected with steroid at the EDC tendon. The CSA of EDC tendon, visual analogue scale (VAS), and degree of swelling of the wrist were followed up 1 week after the injection.

TPBS was interpreted as normal for 4 patients, suspected CRPS for 10 patients, and CRPS for 9 patients. Ultrasonographic findings of the affected wrist included swelling of the EDC tendon. After the injection of steroid to the wrist, CSA and swelling of the affected wrist compared to that before the treatment was significantly decreased (P < 0.001). The VAS score declined significantly after the injection (P < 0.001).

Our results suggest that the pathophysiology of poststroke CRPS might be the combination of frozen shoulder or rotator cuff tear of shoulder and soft tissue injury of the wrist caused by the hemiplegic nature of patients with stroke.


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January 24, 2018