Asthma, Migraines, May Be Connected to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a painful disorder that can occur after a seemingly minor trauma or accident. Although it usually begins after an injury, there are some people who do develop CRPS just like that, spontaneously. The pain of complex regional pain syndrome can be debilitating, affecting a person's life severely.

Not all doctors are in agreement as to the criteria to be used to make the diagnosis. However, the most widely accepted criteria come from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), which says that along with the pain and change in sensation, patients must have edema (swelling caused by fluid in the body tissue) of the injured area, changes in skin blood flow, and changes in the ability to use the limb.

As research continues, doctors are beginning to understand a bit of CRPS but it's still not known if there are other illnesses, diseases, that may play a role in increasing the risk of developing the syndrome. The authors of this study wanted to identify if there were any other medical conditions that may occur in relation to the appearance of CRPS.

To do the study, the researchers looked back at files of patients with CRPS and compared them with people from the general population that did not have CRPS. The medical histories of the patients were evaluated as the researchers looked for evidence of other illnesses. If there were any questions about the history, the patients' doctors were contacted for clarification. The researchers were particularly interested in traumas, any illnesses considered to be hormonal, metabolic, cancerous, inflammatory, or psychological. Any illnesses were classified as "unexplained complaints," or "unexplained symptoms."

What the researchers found was that of over 200,000 people, 259 were found to have CRPS. Since some weren't reachable or their records traceable, the number of patients who could be included in the study was, in the end, 134. After losing some patients and adding some more, the researchers ended up with 186 patients, who were compared with 697 control patients, those who didn't have CRPS.

When analyzing the data, the researchers noted that previously reported associations between osteoporosis and headaches and CRPS were also found in the study. They also found a connection between an increase in asthma attacks and menstrual cycle disorders. However, they didn't find any connection with psychosocial factors, despite other studies finding otherwise.

It seems that migraines, asthma and CRPS share much in common with the inflammation process in the body. The researchers couldn't find a connection between osteoporosis and menstrual related issues and CRPS, though. The authors did point out that there could be a connection with osteoporosis because of the increased risk of fracture, which is one of the predisposing factors of CRPS in many patients.

The authors concluded that there is a connection between a medical history of asthma, migraine, and osteoporosis, with CRPS. There may also be one with recent complaints of menstrual-related disorders or other illness that affect the nerves.

M. de Mos, et al. Medical history and the onset if complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In Pain. October 2008. Vol. 139. no. 2. Pp. 458-466.

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