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Thalidomide Shows Promise with Pain Condition

Drug's anti-inflammatory properties may explain effectiveness

THURSDAY, March 20, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Thalidomide shows promise as a treatment for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

That's the finding of three preliminary studies to be presented March 21 and 22 at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society in Chicago.

CRPS is a painful, disabling condition that can be caused by a minor local injury and then spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include burning pain, bone and skin changes, excessive sweating and extreme sensitivity to touch.

The condition affects 2 million to 6 million people in the United States and is often misdiagnosed. Women suffer from CRPS two to three times more often than men.

Currently, there is no drug or drug combination that provides long-lasting relief to people with CRPS.

Combined results from the three studies showed that 14 of 34 people treated with thalidomide had measurable decreases in CRPS symptoms. That improvement usually occurred within four to six weeks of the start of treatment.

The precise mechanism of thalidomide in treating CRPS symptoms is unclear. But it may have to do with the drug's anti-inflammatory properties.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about complex regional pain syndrome.

SOURCE: American Pain Society, news release, March 20, 2003
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