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BMC Neurol. 2013 Mar 18;13:28. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-13-28.

Diagnosis of partial complex regional pain syndrome type 1 of the hand: retrospective study of 16 cases and literature review.

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  • 1Department for musculoskeletal rehabilitation, Clinique romande de réadaptation suvacare, 90 avenue du grand champsec, Sion 1951, Switzerland.



The partial form of the complex regional pain syndrome of the hand type 1 (CRPS 1), involving only 1 to 3 fingers, is a rare condition first described in 1972. The aim of the study is to define more precisely the diagnosis workup and the prognosis of this clinical entity.


Retrospective study of CRPS1 partial form observed during five years in a rehabilitation ward. Application of The Budapest criteria, evaluation of radiological exams, therapeutic results and vocational outcomes. Comparison with cases from literature review.


132 patients were hospitalized with the diagnosis of CRPS type 1 of the hand. 16 partial forms were isolated: 11 men, 5 women with a mean age of 43 years. Among these patients, 14 (88%) met The Budapest criteria and the two remaining cases were diagnosed by using the three phase bone scintigraphy. Only moderate improvement was obtained in the majority of the patients. At the maximal time of follow-up (4 to 9 years), 50% of the patients hadn't returned to work. From the literature review, 19 cases were eligible for clinical comparisons. The main differences between our series and the literature were: more men involved, later diagnosis and worst prognosis in term of return to work.


This is the largest series of consecutive partial form of CRPS. The Budapest criteria are sufficient for the diagnosis in 88% of cases. As in complete form of CRPS1 of the hand, three phase bone scintigraphy should only be used in doubtful cases in the first six months of the illness. Partial form of CRPS1 of the hand is rare and its prevalence remains unknown. Long term prognosis (4 to 9 years) is poor in our series, 50% of patients didn't returned to work.

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