Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS) is a type of chronic, long-lasting pain affecting one or several limbs or a part of a limb. CRPS has specific attributes of ongoing hypersensitivity, swelling, color and temperature changes in the affected extremity, that was previously injured by trauma or surgery. CRPS is believed to be one of the most underdiagnosed causes of disability, pain, and suffering. With CRPS, you may have unexplained pain that will not go away. It may be severe, and it may even spread.


The exact cause of CRPS is not completely understood and/or known. Its origin remains as an abnormal response that your body has to being hurt, almost as a type of overreaction, or like an allergy. It can develop after any kind of trauma or injury to the body (i.e. limb fracture, sprain/strain, blunt trauma, stroke, heart attack, after casting, etc.).


If you have CRPS, you may feel burning pain, pins and needles, and hypersensitivity or intolerance to light touch. You may also experience increased warmth or coldness, sweating, skin color or nail growth changes or restrictions in use and movement of limb. For example, if you hurt your hand, it may spread to the entire arm or even to the other arm. Your skin may change colors, and may feel warm or cool as well as be overly sensitive to light touch.


It is very important to start treatment ASAP for better results, as CRPS can progress rapidly. Some of the treatment options include: physical therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, medications, psychotherapy, managing expectations, sympathetic nerve blocks as a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure, neuro and peripheral stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and stimulation of the dorsal root ganglion in refractory cases.