Do Omega-6 and Trans Fatty Acids Play a Role in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? A Pilot Study

Christopher Ramsden*, Christine Gagnon, Joseph Graciosa, Keturah Faurot, Robert David, J. Alexander Bralley, R. Norman Harden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives. The study aims to compare the omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), and trans fatty acid (trans FA) status of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) patients to pain-free controls. Design. Case control study. Setting. The setting was at a multidisciplinary rehabilitation center. Patients. Twenty patients that met the Budapest research diagnostic criteria for CRPS and 15 pain-free control subjects were included in this study. Outcome Measures. Fasting plasma fatty acids were collected from all participants. In CRPS patients, pain was assessed using the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form. In addition, results from the perceived disability (Pain Disability Index), pain-related anxiety (Pain Anxiety Symptom Scale Short Form), depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Short Form), and quality of life (Short Form-36 [SF-36]) were evaluated. Results. Compared with controls, CRPS patients demonstrated elevated concentrations of n-6 HUFA and trans FA. No differences in n-3 HUFA concentrations were observed. Plasma concentrations of the n-6 HUFA docosatetraenoic acid were inversely correlated with the "vitality" section of the SF-36. Trans FA concentrations positively correlated with pain-related disability and anxiety. Conclusion. These pilot data suggest that elevated n-6 HUFA and trans FA may play a role in CRPS pathogenesis. These findings should be replicated, and more research is needed to explore the clinical significance of low n-6 and trans FA diets with or without concurrent n-3 HUFA supplementation, for the management of CRPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1125
Number of pages11
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Arachidonic Acid
  • CRPS
  • Chronic Pain
  • Omega-3
  • Omega-6
  • Trans Fatty Acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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