New treatment for chronic pain condition CRPS
Single IV drip gives significant pain relief in 50% of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome patients
1st February 2010 - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - or CRPS - is a chronic pain condition that usually develops after an injury or trauma to a limb and continues after the injury has healed. Now researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Pain Research Institute have developed a new treatment using a low dose infusion of intravenous immunoglobin.
In some cases of CRPS the pain can be so severe that patients request amputation, only to find that the pain returns in the stump. CRPS is most common in people aged between 40 and 60 but can occur at any age. It can occur in children and affects women more often than men. There is no cure for CRPS.
Experts believe that CRPS occurs as a result of dysfunction in the nervous system or in immune responses.
Long term CRPS affects about one in 5,000 people in the UK.
Paralympic Gold medal winner at archery in Beijing 2008, Danielle Brown, suffers from CRPS.
Conventional pain medications either don’t work, or have considerable side effects.
The team at Liverpool’s Pain Research Institute discovered that a single, low dose infusion of intravenous immunoglobin (IVIG) significantly reduced pain in just under half of patients treated. The pain relief lasted five weeks on average, with few adverse side effects.
Their research is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The researchers say the results of the study could offer new hope to patients with CRPS and have an impact on research in other severe chronic pain areas.
Dr Andreas Goebel, senior lecturer in pain medicine, says in a news release “In CRPS, the real effect of this treatment in clinic may turn out to be even greater than what we have already seen, because IVIG can be given in higher doses, and repeated treatment may have additional effects. IVIG is normally repeated every four weeks and we are working to develop ways which would allow patients to administer the treatment in their own home.”
“The discovery is expected to have a real impact on the treatment of other unexplained chronic pain conditions; if one pain condition can be effectively treated with an immune drug, then it is possible that other types will also respond.”
Intravenous immunoglobulin treatment for CRPS is not yet available on the NHS.