Motor cortex stimulation (MCS) is useful to treat patients with neuropathic pain syndromes, unresponsive to medical treatment. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a segmentary disease treated successfully by spinal cord stimulation (SCS). However, CRPS often affects large body segments difficult to cover by SCS. This study analyzed the MCS efficacy in patients with CRPS affecting them. Five patients with CRPS of different etiologies underwent a small craniotomy for unilateral 20-grid-contact implantation on MC, guided by craniometric landmarks. Neurophysiological and clinical tests were performed to identify the contacts position and the best analgesic responses to MCS. The grid was replaced by a definitive 4-contacts-electrode connected to an internalized system. Pain was evaluated by international scales. Changes in sympathetic symptoms, including temperature, perspiration, color and swelling were evaluated. Pre-operative and post-operative monthly evaluations were performed during one year. A double-blind maneuver was introduced assigning two groups. One had stimulators turned OFF from day 30-60 and the other from day 60-90. Four patients showed important decrease in pain, sensory and sympathetic changes during the therapeutic trial, while one patient did not have any improvement and was rejected for implantation. VAS and McGill pain scales diminished significantly (p < 0.01) throughout the follow-up, accompanied by disappearance of the sensory (allodynea and hyperalgesia) and sympathetic signs. MCS is effective not only to treat pain, but also improve the sympathetic changes in CPRS. Mechanism of action is actually unclear, but seems to involve sensory input at the level of the spinal cord. © 2009 International Association for the Study of Pain.
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