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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


complex regional pain syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to either arms or legs. Experts believe that CRPS occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems and typically develops after an injury, surgery, a stroke, or a heart attack.


The symptoms of CRPS vary in their severity and length. One symptom of CRPS is continuous, intense pain that gets worse rather than better over time. If CRPS occurs after an injury, it may seem out of proportion to the severity of the injury. Even in cases involving an injury only to a finger or toe, pain can spread to include the entire arm or leg. In some cases, pain can even travel to the opposite extremity. Other symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Burning pain
  • Swelling and stiffness in affected joints
  • Decreased motor ability
  • Changes in nail and hair growth pattern
  • Blotchy skin or changes in skin texture
  • Excessively sweaty skin

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Often, a combination of different treatments, tailored to your specific case, is recommended. Treatment options include:

  • Medications such as:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers
    • Corticosteroids
    • Bone-loss medications
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking injections
  • Intravenous ketamine
  • Topical analgesics
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Intrathecal drug pumps
  • Acupuncture

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