Pain exposure physical therapy may be a safe and effective treatment for longstanding complex regional pain syndrome type 1: a case series.
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SourceClinical Rehabilitation, 23, 12, (2009), pp. 1059-66
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectDCN 1: Perception and Action; NCEBP 6: Quality of nursing and allied health care; NCEBP 8: Psychological determinants of chronic illness
OBJECTIVE: To determine if treatment of longstanding complex regional pain syndrome type 1, focusing on functional improvement only while neglecting pain, results in clinical improvement of this syndrome. DESIGN: Prospective description of a case series of 106 patients. SETTING: Outpatient clinic for rehabilitation. INTERVENTIONS: Physical therapy of the affected limb directed at a functional improvement only while neglecting the pain, was performed following an extensive explanation. Normal use of the limb between the treatments was encouraged despite pain. A maximum of five of these sessions were performed in three months. MEASURES: Radboud Skills Test was used to monitor functional improvement of the arms. Speed and walking distance was used as the measure of outcome for the legs. RESULTS: The function of the affected arm or leg improved in 95 patients. Full functional recovery was experienced in 49 (46%) of them. A reduction in pain presented in 75 patients. In 23 patients functional recovery was reached despite an increase in pain. Four patients stopped early due to pain increase. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that 'pain exposure physical therapy' is effective and safe for patients who are unresponsive to accepted standard therapies. Avoiding the use of a limb due to pain will result in loss of function. Forced usage of limbs restores the function, reverses these adaptive processes and leads to regain of control by practice with a reduction of pain in most cases.
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