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Open Access EMDR as a Therapeutic Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Case Report

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Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is characterized by ongoing pain, swelling, and stiffness following an acute injury. CRPS is difficult to diagnose, significantly impacts functioning, and is frequently incurable. Current treatments are pharmacotherapy, surgery, and physiotherapy. This case report describes the use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the psychotherapeutic treatment of a woman diagnosed with CRPS in 2009 as a result of injuries sustained during an assault in 2004. This article reports on EMDR treatment provided 1–2 years after her diagnosis. At initial assessment, the client was debilitated and suicidal, unable to work or care for her children, and dependent on her family for financial support because of CRPS. Two phases of 7 EMDR sessions were provided; the first focused on past traumatic experiences; the second addressed her pain with Grant's (2009) EMDR chronic pain protocol. At the end of treatment, the client reported decreased pain, decreased substance dependence, improved mood and outlook, and was able to resume part-time work. Results were maintained at 8-month follow-up and suggest that EMDR was helpful for this client in reducing the symptoms associated with CRPS.

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Keywords: CASE REPORT; CHRONIC PAIN; COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME (CRPS); EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR); TREATMENT EFFICACY; VIGNETTE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-05-01

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  • The Journal of EMDR Practice and Research is a quarterly, peer-reviewed publication devoted to integrative, state-of-the-art papers about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a broadly conceived interdisciplinary journal that stimulates and communicates research and theory about EMDR, and their application to clinical practice.
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