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About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Chronic Pain

Definition

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that most often affects the arms, legs, hands, or feet. Complex regional pain syndrome is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia.

Causes

Complex regional pain syndrome usually develops in a limb after an injury (such as a broken bone) or surgery. The exact cause of CRPS is unknown.

Symptoms

The overriding symptom is extreme pain, frequently described as burning. Other symptoms can include:

  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Skin changes
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Decreased function of the hand/foot

Diagnosis

Your doctor may base a diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome on:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Bone scan
  • Nervous system tests
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.