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Pain Med. 2010 Jul;11(7):1115-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2010.00882.x. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

Do omega-6 and trans fatty acids play a role in complex regional pain syndrome? A pilot study.

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Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



The study aims to compare the omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), and trans fatty acid (trans FA) status of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) patients to pain-free controls.


Case control study. Setting. The setting was at a multidisciplinary rehabilitation center.


Twenty patients that met the Budapest research diagnostic criteria for CRPS and 15 pain-free control subjects were included in this study. Outcome Measures. Fasting plasma fatty acids were collected from all participants. In CRPS patients, pain was assessed using the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form. In addition, results from the perceived disability (Pain Disability Index), pain-related anxiety (Pain Anxiety Symptom Scale Short Form), depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Short Form), and quality of life (Short Form-36 [SF-36]) were evaluated.


Compared with controls, CRPS patients demonstrated elevated concentrations of n-6 HUFA and trans FA. No differences in n-3 HUFA concentrations were observed. Plasma concentrations of the n-6 HUFA docosatetraenoic acid were inversely correlated with the "vitality" section of the SF-36. Trans FA concentrations positively correlated with pain-related disability and anxiety.


These pilot data suggest that elevated n-6 HUFA and trans FA may play a role in CRPS pathogenesis. These findings should be replicated, and more research is needed to explore the clinical significance of low n-6 and trans FA diets with or without concurrent n-3 HUFA supplementation, for the management of CRPS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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