Complex regional pain syndrome-phenotypic characteristics and potential biomarkers

Frank Birklein, Seena K. Ajit, Andreas Goebel, Roberto S. G. M. Perez, Claudia Sommer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a pain condition that usually affects a single limb, often following an injury. The underlying pathophysiology seems to be complex and probably varies between patients. Clinical diagnosis is based on internationally agreed-upon criteria, which consider the reported symptoms, presence of signs and exclusion of alternative causes. Research into CRPS biomarkers to support patient stratification and improve diagnostic certainty is an important scientific focus, and recent progress in this area provides an opportunity for an up-to-date topical review of measurable disease-predictive, diagnostic and prognostic parameters. Clinical and biochemical attributes of CRPS that may aid diagnosis and determination of appropriate treatment are delineated. Findings that predict the development of CRPS and support the diagnosis include trauma-related factors, neurocognitive peculiarities, psychological markers, and local and systemic changes that indicate activation of the immune system. Analysis of signatures of non-coding microRNAs that could predict the treatment response represents a new line of research. Results from the past 5 years of CRPS research indicate that a single marker for CRPS will probably never be found; however, a range of biomarkers might assist in clinical diagnosis and guide prognosis and treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-284
JournalNature Reviews Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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