Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic (long-term) disorder of the nervous system. It is a collection of signs and symptoms typically at the site of an injury or post-surgery, heart attack and stroke. It is usually present in limbs but disproportionate pain can be present throughout the body.

CRPS is poorly understood and difficult to diagnose. Better treatment outcomes are more likely if treatment is started during the first three months of the condition. Although it can start at any age CRPS is most common between the ages of about 40 and 50 years. It is rare in the elderly and very few children are affected. CRPS occurs more frequently in women than in men.

CRPS is classified as chronic disproportionate pain that results after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack

Symptoms

CRPS symptoms are classified over four categories and one symptom must be present from each category to diagnose CRPS

  1. Increased sensitivity on skin or complete numbness
  2. Skin colour changes and changes in temperature on the skin (e.g.: Extreme coldness in one hand or extreme heat)
  3. Severe swelling or sweating
  4. Motor dysfunction such as weakness, tremors, dystonia, muscle spasms and changes to the hair and skin.