The objective of this study is to assess the autonomic nerve heart rate regulation system at rest and its immediate response to paced breathing among patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) as compared with age-matched healthy controls. Design: Quasiexperimental. Setting: Outpatient clinic. Subjects: Ten patients with CRPS and 10 age- and sex-matched controls. Methods: Participants underwent Holter ECG (NorthEast Monitoring, Inc., Maynard, MA, USA) recording during rest and biofeedback-paced breathing session. Heart rate variability (HRV), time, and frequency measures were assessed. Results: HRV and time domain values were significantly lower at rest among patients with CRPS as compared with controls. A significant association was noted between pain rank and HRV frequency measures at rest and during paced breathing; although both groups reduced breathing rate significantly during paced breathing, HRV time domain parameters increased only among the control group. Conclusions: The increased heart rate and decreased HRV at rest in patients with CRPS suggest a general autonomic imbalance. The inability of the patients to increase HRV time domain values during paced breathing may suggest that these patients have sustained stress response with minimal changeability in response to slow-paced breathing stimuli.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Heart Rate Variability
- Paced Breathing