OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the use of continuous interscalene brachial plexus block with bupivacaine to treat complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type 1 of the shoulder in adult patients who were refractory to standard therapies.<br /><br />PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a prospective, cross-sectional study of 59 cases of treatment-refractory CRPS type 1 of the shoulder. The patients were treated with one week of continuous interscalene brachial plexus block with bupivacaine and concomitant rehabilitation in a specialist centre. After withdrawal of the catheter, rehabilitation was continued for a further 3 weeks. The outcomes at 1, 6 and 12 months were evaluated in terms of the Constant score, the verbal numeric rating scale (VNRS) for pain, joint range of motion and medication use. Patients were later interviewed by telephone and asked to state their professional situation, the current VNRS score for pain and the status of their CRPS.<br /><br />RESULTS: In the first month of treatment, the mean VNRS pain score fell from 7.4 to 3.6, the Constant score rose from 21.7 to 56.6% and the joint range of motion increased from 5.4 to 29.9° for external rotation (ER) position 1 and from 38.6 to 74.2° for abduction. These improvements persisted over time, despite a very slight reduction at 6 months. 86% of the interviewed patients reported that the treatment protocol had improved or greatly improvement their condition. 46% of the respondees had been able to return to work.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Treatment with a combination of a 1-week continuous interscalene brachial plexus block and rehabilitation may be a good option for patients with CRPS type 1 of the shoulder and who are refractory to standard therapies.
Detaille, V., Busnel, F., Ravary, H., Jacquot, A., Katz, D., & Allano, G. (2010). Use of continuous interscalene brachial plexus block and rehabilitation to treat complex regional pain syndrome of the shoulder. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 53(6–7), 406–416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rehab.2010.06.002