Facts

  • Complex regional pain syndrome can occur at any age and affects both men and women
  • More common in women than men
  • Most common age of occurrence is 40 years

Overview/Description

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a chronic pain condition involving damage or malfunction of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The pain experienced generally only affects one of the limbs (hands, arms, legs or feet). The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord while the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the central nervous system to the rest of the body.

Types

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome I (CPRS-I)
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome II (CPRS-II)

Symptoms

In the majority of cases, symptoms are mild and individuals recover over time however in more severe cases recovery may not occur and disability can occur. Common symptoms associated with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome include:

  • Persistent, excessive pain
  • Burning or “pins and needles” sensation
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Increased sensitivity of the affected limb
  • Constant or intermittent skin color or temperature changes of the affected limb

Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis by a physician is beneficial in the creation of a treatment plan.  Diagnosis of CPRS is based on your individual medical history and signs and symptoms, as there is no single diagnostic test used to confirm CPRS. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Bone Scans may be used to identify bone metabolism changes that are characteristic to CPRS. Other test may be done to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. A common distinguishing factor used to rule out other conditions is the notation of an injury to the affected limb.

Causes

The most common triggers for CPRS include:

  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Soft tissue injury i.e. burns, cuts, bruises

Occasionally, CPRS develops without any known injury.

Treatment Options & Care

  • Sympathetic Nerve Block
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Anti-inflammatory medications note: medications should be taken as directed by your doctor