Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a neurological disorder that occurs after a traumatic event such as a limb or stroke. Patients experience chronic pain in some parts of the body, most often in the arm or leg.
About 15% of patients still have symptoms a year after the event that seriously affected their quality of life. For these patients, the prognosis is often poor, and pharmacological treatment to relieve pain is rarely effective. Little is known about the causes of this disease and there is no specific test to identify it. Just one thing: the disease sends pain signals without a valid reason.
Understand the mechanism of the "neuroinflammation" mechanism
Study published in the journal PNAS However, this can change the game because the researchers have discovered a potential method of treating the patients. To better understand the immune causes of CRPS, a team at the Institute of Pain Studies at the University of Liverpool examined antibodies in the serum of patients to determine the potential role of these proteins in the development of this disease. disorder.
Researchers mainly wanted to understand the mechanism of "neurotransmission", an antibody that increases the level of inflammatory mediators, such as interleukin (IL-1) in other peripheral tissues or in the brain. But if IL-1 normally helps the body eliminate microorganisms and repair damaged tissue when it is incorrectly produced, it helps to trigger CRPS.
"Interesting therapeutic potential"
Researchers have transferred antibodies from long-term CRPS patients to mice. They found that they caused CRPS-like disorders. They also observed that blocking IL-1 with anakinra, already available, can prevent and reverse changes in rodents.
'Our results support previous clinical observations that prove that patients with persistent CRPS should respond to immunological treatments, reducing at least some symptoms … This approach has interesting therapeutic potential and can also have a real impact on the immune system. treatment of other unexplained chronic pain: we plan to test the effect of this and similar drugs on patients with CRPS "- said Dr. Andreas Goebel, who conducted the study.
Antidepressants for acupuncture and anti-inflammatory agents
In general, CRPS sufferers experience a difference in the temperature or color of the affected limb skin, limitation of limb movements, excessive perspiration in the affected limb, tremor, weakness in one hand or one leg, skin lesions, hair or nails on the affected side, reduced bone density and possible fractures.
They currently take anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids or antidepressants, but this is rarely 100% effective. Other doctors encourage their patients to use non-drug therapies such as relaxation, meditation or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Finally, some patients prefer treatments such as acupuncture or percutaneous neurostimulation. Physiotherapy can also help to maintain the range of motion and prevent weakness of the limb. Finally, for people not very sensitive to temperature, water therapy is particularly effective.
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