Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
(CRPS; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy [RSD]; Causalgia; Sympathetically Maintained Pain)
Michael Jubinville, MPH
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic condition that affects the nerves and blood vessels of 1 or more limbs.
There are 2 types:
CRPS has many causes such as:
How CRPS develops isn't clear. One or more below may play a role:
The chances of CRPS is higher for:
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:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. Your answers and physical exam may point to CRPS. Testing is done to rule out other conditions. This can be done with:
Imaging tests usually aren't needed unless there is a certain reason to have them.
The goal is to ease pain and help you function better. Early care may help you get better faster. In some cases, problems go away on their own. This is more common in children. One or more methods may be used:
CRPS can't be prevented since the cause is unknown.
International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS
U.S. Pain Foundation
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated December 1, 2017. Accessed August 23, 2018.
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. Updated August 2018. Accessed August 23, 2018.
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. Updated July 6, 2018. Accessed August 23, 2018.
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11/9/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Cacchio A, DeBlasis, E, Necozione S, di Orio F, Santilla V. Mirror therapy for chronic complex regional pain syndrome type 1 and stroke. N Engl J Med. 2009;361(6):634-636.
4/24/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Wise JN, Weissman BN, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for chronic foot pain. Available at: https://acsearch.acr.org/docs/69424/Narrative. Updated 2013.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 8/23/2018
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