Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a type of chronic pain, typically developing after nerve injury from trauma, surgery, accident, stroke, or heart attack. Normally, it develops in the affected limb and is characteristic by worsening intensities of pain over time. The pain is associated with skin color and temperature changes, swelling, burning sensations, and increasing motor disability with muscle loss.

CRPS is likely caused by a multitude of abnormal mechanisms. The exact cause is unknown, but seems to be associated with central nerve bundles that send out abnormal pain, immunologic, and inflammatory responses.

CRPS is diagnosed by history and physical exam findings. There are not diagnostic lab values or imaging studies that can confirm a diagnosis. Mostly, with presence of initial injury, a higher than normal pain response (allodynia), and change of appearance of the affect site, a diagnosis can be made.

Complex Regional Pain

Early treatment with aggressive physical therapy can help limited to progression of symptoms, but other treatment options include:

  • Physical Therapy and TENS therapy
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Medication Management
  • Sympathetic Nerve Bundle Blockade
  • Peripheral Nerve Blockade
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation with implanted devices
  • Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation
  • Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
  • Intrathecal Pain Pump Implantation