Bisphosphonates as a Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)


What are bisphosphonates?

Bisphosphonates are prescription medications used to prevent bone loss. They are commonly prescribed for individuals with osteoporosis, osteopenia, and bone cancer. Bisphosphonates work by interfering with the process in the body that breaks down bone tissue. Examples of bisphosphonates include risedronate, alendronate and ibandronate.

Bisphosphonates and complex regional pain syndrome

Some of the pain and other symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome may be related to increased bone resorption and high rates of bone turnover. These processes involve the breakdown and rebuilding or remodeling of the bone. When these processes are inhibited, severe bone pain may be reduced. Therefore, bisphosphonates may reduce pain, improve physical function, and improve quality of life for individuals with CRPS.

Bisphosphonates may work better in some cases of CRPS than others. For example, they may work better when CRPS is “warm,” meaning that the affected limb is warmer to the touch than the unaffected limb. They may also be more effective when prescribed in the early stages of CRPS or when a bone fracture was the triggering event in the development of CRPS.

Bisphosphonates are typically administered intravenously or orally. They are not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of CRPS, but further trials and studies are ongoing.

Additional source used to create this article: Journal of Medical Case Reports.

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