This report describes the case of a multitrauma patient who underwent an amputation of the left arm and had a complicated left crural fracture with a delayed union. He was treated in an inpatient setting for preprosthetic training for a myoelectric prosthesis and to regain walking abilities. After consolidation of the crural fracture, complex regional pain syndrome type I (CRPS I) developed in the left foreleg, which hindered mobilization. Topical capsaicin .075% was prescribed and a stress-loading mobilization schema was instituted. No other treatment modalities directed at CRPS I were added. After 6 weeks, no signs or symptoms of CRPS I were present and capsaicin was discontinued. Capsaicin is a well-accepted and documented treatment modality in neuropathic pain states such as postherpetic neuralgia. However, it has rarely been described in CRPS I. Capsaicin is discussed within the framework of recent insights in the neurobiology of nociception, and it is concluded that it may provide a theory-driven treatment for CRPS I, especially in the acute stage, that facilitates physical therapy and prevents peripheral and spinal sensitization.
- EMC MUSC-01-46-01