Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Also called: CRPS, Causalgia, Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition. It causes intense pain, usually in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. It may happen after an injury, either to a nerve or to tissue in the affected area. Rest and time may only make it worse.

Symptoms in the affected area are

  • Dramatic changes in skin temperature, color, or texture
  • Intense burning pain
  • Extreme skin sensitivity
  • Swelling and stiffness in affected joints
  • Decreased ability to move the affected body part

The cause of CRPS is unknown. There is no specific diagnostic test. Your doctor will diagnose CRPS based on your signs and symptoms.

There is no cure. It can get worse over time, and may spread to other parts of the body. Occasionally it goes away, either temporarily or for good. Treatment focuses on relieving the pain, and can include medicines, physical therapy, and nerve blocks.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following features are indicative of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • pain
  • swelling
  • redness
  • noticeable changes in temperature
  • hypersensitivity
  • continuous burning or throbbing pain
  • sensitivity to touch or cold
  • swelling of the painful area
  • changes in skin temperature
  • changes in skin color
  • changes in skin texture
  • changes in hair and nail growth
  • joint stiffness, swelling and damage
  • muscle spasms, weakness and loss
  • decreased ability to move the affected body part

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Common Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following are the most common causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • peripheral nerve injury
  • hemiplegia
  • crush injury
  • fracture
  • amputation

Other Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following are the less common causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • surgery
  • heart attacks
  • infections
  • sprained ankles
  • emotional stress

Risk Factors for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • body mass index
  • tissue types injured
  • side of affected forearm or hand

Prevention of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

No, it is not possible to prevent Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
  • no known prevention

Occurrence of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • Bone scan: To detect bone changes
  • Sympathetic nervous system tests: To detect disturbances in the sympathetic nervous system
  • X-rays: To check loss of minerals from the bones
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To check a number of tissue changes

Doctor for Diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome if untreated

Yes, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is left untreated:
  • atrophy
  • muscle tightening

Procedures for Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following procedures are used to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Applying electrical impulses to nerve endings
  • Spinal cord stimulation: A small electrical current delivered to the spinal cord results in pain relief

Self-care for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • Take enough vitamin C: Lowers the risk of complex regional pain syndrome
  • Do early mobilization after a stroke: Lower their risk of complex regional pain syndrome

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:
  • Apply heat and cold therapy: Relieves swelling and sweating
  • Physical therapy: Decreases the pain and improve range of motion and strength
  • Use biofeedback techniques: Biofeedback techniques relaxes the body and relieve pain

Patient Support for Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The following actions may help Complex Regional Pain Syndrome patients:
  • Talk to your friends and family: Helps in coping with disease
  • Take care of physical and mental health: Pace yourself and get the rest that you need

Time for Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 3 - 6 months

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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