Chinese scalp acupuncture relieves pain and restores function in complex regional pain syndrome
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) can result from trauma or after surgery. It is often difficult to manage effectively. If not recognized early, it can result in significant debilitation. Symptoms attributed to CRPS include neuropathic pain, allodynia, sudomotor changes, and decreased range of motion. It can occur with (Type II) or without (Type I) nerve injury. A number of soldiers sustaining extremity injuries during combat have manifested these symptoms. Two subjects were diagnosed with CRPS after sustaining upper extremity injuries during military operations. After failing conservative treatment, Chinese Scalp Acupuncture (CSA) was used once to twice a week for 1 to 4 weeks. CSA resulted in improvement in the pain visual analog scale or numeric rating scale by over 80% in two soldiers with upper extremity CRPS. Additionally, decreased sensory changes and improved function were noted on exam and therapy assessments. Notably, the pain reduction, functional improvement, and normalization of sensation have been fully maintained between treatments. The treatment response had been sustained at 20-month follow-up with no recurrence. CSA provided lasting pain reduction, and improved function and sensation in this group of combatants with upper extremity CRPS.