Signs and symptoms in complex regional pain syndrome type I/reflex sympathetic dystrophy: Judgment of the physician versus objective measurement

H. Margreet Oerlemans*, Rob A.B. Oostendorp, Theo De Boo, Roberto S.G.M. Perez, R. Jan A. Goris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To assess the relation between the subjectively assessed and objectively measured diagnostic signs and symptoms in complex regional pain syndrome type I (CRPS I) and to quantify their severity. Design: Diagnostic signs and symptoms were recorded in patients suffering from CRPS I of one upper extremity for less than I year. Independent assessors measured (a) pain by using four visual analog scales (VAS) and the McGill Questionnaire list of adjectives (MPQ), (b) edema with a hand volumeter, (c) skin temperature with an infrared thermometer, and (d) active range of motion (AROM) with goniometers. Setting: Two university hospitals. Patients: Ninety-five women and 40 men with CRPS I of one upper extremity. Results: Four signs and symptoms were diagnosed in 50 patients, and five in the remaining 85 patients. The mean score for present pain intensity was 31.5 mm and that for pain resulting from exertion of the affected extremity was 71.9 mm. A median of 11.5 words was chosen from the MPQ, with the highest number from its evaluative part. The difference in volume between both hands was 30.4 ml. The mean difference in temperature between the two hands was 0.78°C dorsally and 0.66°C palmarly. The largest decrease in mobility was seen in the wrist and fingers; the thumb was relatively less affected and the little finger relatively more affected than the other fingers. Conclusions: Bedside evaluation of CRPS I with Veldman's criteria was in good accord with psychometric or laboratory testing of these criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-232
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1999

Cite this