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Open Access 08-06-2024 | Original Communication

The role of fatigue in patients with complex regional pain syndrome

Authors: Matthias Wiemann, Sarah-Luis Blendow, Nikolas Zimowski, Elena Enax-Krumova, Robert Fleischmann, Iris-Katharina Penner, Matthias Grothe, Sebastian Strauss

Published in: Journal of Neurology

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

Fatigue affects patients across a variety of neurological diseases, including chronic pain syndromes such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In CRPS, fatigue is often underestimated, as the focus lies in the assessment and managing of pain and sensorimotor deficits. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence, characteristics, and influence of fatigue on CRPS severity and quality of life in these patients. Such insights could enhance the clinical management of this challenging condition.

Methods

In this prospective study, 181 CRPS patients and 141 age and gender-matched individuals with injury but without chronic pain were interviewed using the Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Function to assess fatigue. Depressive symptoms and quality of life (QoL) were also evaluated as additional outcome measures. Statistical analysis was performed to examine differences in fatigue prevalence between the groups, as well as associations with CRPS severity, pain levels, and clinical phenotype. In addition, best subsets regression was used to identify the primary factors influencing QoL. Fatigue was tested in a mediation analysis as a mediator between pain and depression.

Results

CRPS patients showed significantly higher fatigue levels compared to controls (CRPS: 75 [IQR: 57–85] vs. controls: 39 [IQR: 25–57]). Based on the FSMC, 44.2% in the control group experienced fatigue, while 85% of patients with CRPS experienced fatigue (p < 0.001), of which 6% were mild, 15% moderate, and 67% severe. In CRPS severe fatigue was associated with higher pain intensities compared to no fatigue (pain at rest: p = 0.003; pain during movement: p = 0.007) or moderate fatigue (pain during movement: p = 0.03). QoL in our cohort was mainly influenced by pain (pain during movement: adj.R2 = 0.38; p < 0.001, pain at rest: Δadj.R2 = 0.02, p = 0.007) and depressive symptoms (Δadj.R2 = 0.12, p < 0.001). Subsequent analyses indicated that pain and depressive symptoms primarily impact QoL in CPRS whereas fatigue may exert an indirect influence by mediating the connection between pain and depression (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

This pioneering study investigates the prevalence of fatigue in CRPS patients and its relation to disease characteristics. Our results indicate a high prevalence of severe fatigue, strongly correlated with pain intensity, and its importance in the interaction between pain and depression in CRPS. These findings underscore the significant role of fatigue as a disease factor in CRPS. Therefore, the evaluation of CRPS-related disability should include a standardized assessment of fatigue for comprehensive clinical management.
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Metadata
Title
The role of fatigue in patients with complex regional pain syndrome
Authors
Matthias Wiemann
Sarah-Luis Blendow
Nikolas Zimowski
Elena Enax-Krumova
Robert Fleischmann
Iris-Katharina Penner
Matthias Grothe
Sebastian Strauss
Publication date
08-06-2024
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Published in
Journal of Neurology
Print ISSN: 0340-5354
Electronic ISSN: 1432-1459
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-024-12473-3