Complex regional pain syndrome

What causes complex regional pain syndrome?

The underlying cause of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is not well understood. In most cases it occurs after an illness or injury that did not directly damage the nerves in the affected area (Type I). In some cases, it occurs after a specific nerve injury (Type II). The exact trigger of CRPS after an injury is not known, but it may be due to abnormal interactions between the central and peripheral nervous systems, and/or inappropriate inflammatory responses.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with complex regional pain syndrome?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) varies from person to person. In some people, signs and symptoms go away on their own; this is called spontaneous remission. In others, symptoms may persist for months or years and there may be irreversible problems. Treatment is likely to be most effective when it is started early in the course of the illness, so early diagnosis and treatment may improve the prognosis. The vast majority of children with CRPS have a good prognosis.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might complex regional pain syndrome be treated?

Treatment of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) involves a multidisciplinary approach with the aim of controlling pain symptoms. It has been suggested that when treatment is started within a few months of when symptoms begin, improvement or remission may be possible.

A combination of therapies is usually necessary including medications, physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures, and psychosocial/behavioral management.

Medications may include:

  • Oral and topical pain relievers
  • Antidepressants or anticonvulsants (which are sometimes used to treat pain)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Bone-loss medications
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking medications
  • Intravenous anesthetics (Ketamine)
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin

Interventional procedures may include:

Other therapies may include applying heat or cold; electrical nerve stimulation; and biofeedback.

Psychosocial and behavioral aspects of CRPS should be addressed, and it has been suggested that people with chronic CRPS should have a thorough psychological evaluation. This may be followed by cognitive-behavioral pain management, including relaxation training with biofeedback.

Unfortunately, published research studies validating the efficacy of these treatment options are limited and no single drug or therapy (or combination) has shown consistent, long-lasting improvement.

For more information on treatment options for CRPS, view information from the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Association of America (RSDSA).

Last updated on 05-01-20

Social Networking Websites

Burning Nights CRPS/RSD Forum

The Burning Nights CRPS/RSD Forum is an online community forum for people with CRPS/RSD as well as family, friends, loved ones, and caretakers.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Where To Start

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association of America

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association of America (RSDSA) offers information and support for Complex regional pain syndrome

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA, 95677-0850 , United States
Phone: 916-632-0922 Toll Free: 800-533-3231 Fax : 916-652-8190 Email: Url:
Name: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association of America RSDA 99 Cherry St PO Box 502
Milford, CT, 06460 , United States
Phone: +1-203-877-3790 Toll Free: 1-877.662.7737 (Helpline) Fax : +1-203.882.8362 Email: Url:
Name: Pain Relief Foundation Clinical Sciences Centre University Hospital Aintree, Lower Lane
Liverpool L9 7AL
United Kingdom
Phone: 0151 529 5820 Fax : 0151 529 5821 Email: Url:
Name: The Burning Limb Foundation 15652 Wyoming Drive
Frisco, TX, 75035,
Email: Url: The Burning Limb Foundation provides assistance to those suffering from chronic pain diseases such as complex regional pain syndrome.

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