Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems.
• intense "burning" pain
• increased skin sensitivity
• changes in skin temperature, colour and texture
• changes in nail and hair growth patterns
• swelling and stiffness in affected joints
• motor disability of the affected part
CRPS type I
(formerly known as Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
). The symptoms are frequently triggered by tissue injury or limb fracture.
CRPS type II
(formerly known as Causalgia
). Has the same symptoms but the cases are clearly associated with nerve injury.
Some experts believe there are three stages associated with CRPS, marked by progressive changes in the skin, muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones of the affected area, although this progression has not yet been validated by clinical research studies.
Is based on clinical history and physical examination. There are no specific tests for diagnosis of CRPS.
A multidisciplinary approach aimed at relief of pain and restoration of functionality of the affected part is required. The various modalities include pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation, and interventional techniques like sympathetic blocks, surgical sympathectomy (controversial), spinal cord stimulation, intrathecal drug delivery systems etc.
Adapted from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health. Disorders A-Z. Complex regional pain syndrome. Accessed on October 9, 2012.