Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

CRPS is a chronic pain condition that most often affects one limb usually after an injury. CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems. The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. It is characterized by prolonged or excessive pain and changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling in the affected area.

Individuals without a confirmed nerve injury are classified as having CRPS-I CRPS-II is when there is an associated, confirmed nerve injury.

As some research has identified evidence of nerve injury in CRPS-I, it is unclear if these disorders will always be divided into two types. Nonetheless, the treatment is similar. CRPS symptoms vary in severity and duration, although some cases are mild and eventually go away. In more severe cases, individuals may not recover and may have long-term disability.

Symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Burning pain
  • Swelling and stiffness in affected joints
  • Motor disability, with decreased ability to move the affected body part
  • Changes in nail and hair growth pattern
  • There may be rapid hair growth or no hair growth.
  • Changes in skin temperature, skin on one extremity can feel warmer or cooler compared to the opposite extremity.
  • Skin color may become blotchy, pale, purple or red.
  • The texture of skin also can change, becoming shiny and thin.
  • Excessively sweaty.
  • Heightened by emotional stress.

Read more conditions on our blog

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