Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Overview of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a term that refers to prolonged pain and inflammation due to various clinical conditions affecting our arms and leg. The pain can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (lasting longer than 6 months). 

The pain comes along with several other symptoms and goes away gradually. But in rare cases, it can get prolonged resulting in disability. There is an involvement of nerves that carry pain messages to the brain.

Signs and Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Some of the common symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Spontaneous pain in limbs
  • Pain sensitivity in the affected body areas after touch or cold
  • Altered skin color of affected area
  • Changes in skin texture of the affected area
  • Joint stiffness
  • Altered nail and hair growth pattern
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Reduced muscle strength, muscle loss 

Types of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

There are two types of CRPS:

  • Type 1: This type of CRPS, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a result of apparent injuries such as a sprain or fracture but the injury is with no confirmed nerve damage. 

  • Type 2: This type of CRPS or causalgia starts after an injury with apparent nerve damage.

Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Some of the common causes of CRPS include:


Risk Factors of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Some of the common risk factors that contribute to the development of CRPS include:

Age - Being less than 60 years of age can be an important risk factor for the disease. 

High-Impact Injuries - People who suffer from high-impact injuries are more likely to get affected by CRPS.

Gender - Females have two times increased risk of suffering from CRPS.       





There is no specific way to diagnose CRPS. Only your physician can diagnose it depending on the clinical signs and symptoms.

Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome | When to Consult a Doctor

Some common treatments that are followed for CRPS include:

Medication: For CRPS pain relief, there are certain medications that are quite effective. Some of the common drugs are NSAIDs or pain relievers like acetaminophen. 

Physical Therapy: This involves the physical movements of painful parts of limbs. These physical therapy movements are known to improve the blood circulation in the areas affected and can gradually impart strength and flexibility. 

Psychotherapy: To deal with the psychological symptoms of disease, psychotherapy can help patients to recover fast.