Which medications are used in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Updated: Nov 08, 2018
  • Author: Steven J Parrillo, DO, FACOEP, FACEP; Chief Editor: Andrew K Chang, MD, MS  more...
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Specialists in pain management (usually an anesthesiologist or physiatrist) commonly perform neural blockade. Use of pain modifying agents, such as cyclic antidepressants and gabapentin, usually is left to the primary care physician or pain management team.

The ED physician's primary responsibilities are to recognize the disease and refer patients to an appropriate specialist. However, these patients experience severe pain and should be given sufficient analgesia to provide relief. Narcotics usually are required.

Discussion of available agents has been limited to morphine and hydromorphone. ED physicians choose the agent with which they are most familiar and comfortable. Clinicians who choose to use meperidine should remember that it provides some euphoria and also has an active metabolite that may accumulate.

Agents with a short duration of action (eg, fentanyl) are not usually appropriate.

Some pain specialists prefer methadone for its long duration of action and mechanism of action benefit. This agent is an NMDA antagonist and may therefore be more effective in neuropathic pain syndromes. Conversion from other opioids to methadone should be done by a qualified pain management professional. [60] Other long-acting agents include sustained-release forms of oxycodone and morphine.

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