Journal Article

Current practice in the rehabilitation of complex regional pain syndrome: a survey of practitioners


Introduction. International clinical guidelines for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome recommend a wide range and variation of rehabilitation therapies as the core treatment. It is likely that most therapists employ a range of approaches when managing people with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome but a recent Cochrane review identified little evidence relating to the effectiveness of multi-modal rehabilitation. There is need for up to date trials of rehabilitation for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, but in order to develop a clear model of best practice that can be rigorously evaluated we need to understand current practice. Method. An electronic survey was disseminated internationally to clinicians involved in the rehabilitation of individuals with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The survey aimed to establish which criteria are used for diagnosis and which modalities clinicians use to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and which they consider ineffective or harmful. Results. 132 valid responses were received. A third of participants did not use any established criteria to diagnose Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Current practice commonly included patient education, encouragement of self-management, and physical exercises. Cortically directed treatments such as graded motor imagery and psychological approaches were often incorporated into treatment whereas pain provocative therapies, splinting, contrast bathing, and cold and heat therapy were rarely used in the acute or chronic phase of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Conclusion. A broad range of modalities are currently used in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome rehabilitation. Practice appears to be characterized by educational and exercise based interventions delivered in a pain-contingent manner which largely echoes recommendations in international clinical guidelines.

Attached files


Miller, Caroline
Williams, Mark
Heine, Peter
Williamson, Esther
O’Connell, Neil

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-10-12

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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