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J Med Case Rep. 2014 May 27;8:165. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-8-165.

Complex regional pain syndrome in a competitive athlete and regional osteoporosis assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry: a case report.

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Carnegie Research Institute, Leeds Metropolitan University, Headingley Campus, Leeds LS6 3QS, UK.



Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is rarely utilized in the clinical care of patients with complex regional pain syndrome, but may be useful for the non-invasive determination of regional bone fragility and fracture risk, as well as muscular atrophy and regional body composition. This is the first report in the literature of complex regional pain syndrome and musculoskeletal co-morbidities in an athlete, and is the first to focus on dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry for the clinical assessment of complex regional pain syndrome.


In this report, we describe the case of a 29-year-old Caucasian man with type 1 complex regional pain syndrome. His body mass index was 29.4kg/m2 at the time of presentation. Despite severe complex regional pain syndrome in the left limb and long term use of a wheelchair, the patient participated in high-performance powerlifting. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry revealed marked unilateral differences in bone strength and lean mass between the affected regions and the contralateral regions. Low bone mineral density for age was found in the left hip, with Z-scores ranging from -2.2 to -3.0, and the patient had previously suffered two fractures. Bone density Z-scores in the right hip and legs were normal.


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is a valuable tool for the clinical investigation of musculoskeletal health in patients with complex regional pain syndrome. Regional osteoporosis in complex regional pain syndrome patients is complicated and should be investigated and monitored. Physical activity is possible for some complex regional pain syndrome patients, depending on the type of exercise and the region affected, and it may protect bone density and strength at non affected skeletal sites.

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