Reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the knee. Treatment using continuous epidural anesthesia

D. E. Cooper, J. C. DeLee, S. Ramamurthy

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Abstract

We retrospectively reviewed the cases of fourteen patients who had reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the knee. All fourteen were hospitalized, and epidural block anesthesia was instituted with an indwelling catheter for an average of four days, during which continuous passive motion, manipulation (as necessary), stimulation of muscles, and alternating hot and cold soaks were used. The average length of follow-up was thirty-two months. Eleven patients had complete resolution of the symptoms, two had sufficient intermittent aching with changes in the weather to need medication, and one had no relief. The diagnosis was confirmed if the symptoms were relieved by a lumbar sympathetic block. Pain that was out of proportion to the severity of the injury was the most consistent finding, being present in all fourteen patients. However, variation in clinical severity is characteristic of the syndrome. Eleven of the fourteen patients had a previous patellar operation. After the onset of the symptoms, nine patients had two or more arthroscopic examinations, without notable findings. All fourteen patients had had extensive physical therapy and medical treatment before the epidural block was performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-369
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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