Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
(CRPS; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy [RSD]; Causalgia; Sympathetically Maintained Pain)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is lasting pain in one limb that happens after an injury.
Type 1 happens after a soft tissue or bone injury. It is the most common type. Type 2 happens after a nerve injury.
CRPS may happen after:
How CRPS develops is not clear. One or more below may play a role:
This problem is more common in women, especially those of European descent. It is also more common in adults.
Other things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Symptoms mainly appear after an injury. The most common is long term pain. It may be constant or severe. Pain is described as burning, throbbing, aching, squeezing, or shooting.
These may change over time and cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to make the diagnosis.
Nerve tests may be done, such as:
Imaging tests usually are not needed unless there is a certain reason to have them.
The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve function. Options are:
There are no known guidelines to prevent CRPS.
International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS
U.S. Pain Foundation
Bruehl S. Complex regional pain syndrome. BMJ. 2015 Jul 29;351:h2730.
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname... . Accessed October 5, 2020.
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/pain/complex-regional-pain-syndrome-crps. Accessed October 5, 2020.
Complex regional pain syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Complex-Regional-Pain-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet. Accessed October 5, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 10/5/2020
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