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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS, also known as Causalgia)

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

(CRPS, also known as Causalgia)


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, previously known as Causalgia or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is caused by abnormal activity in the sympathetic nervous system. This syndrome most often results from an injury or surgery to an extremity, particularly the hand or foot. As the injury or surgery heals, the pain persists, intensifies, and can spread. The skin around the affected area can change color and be cold to touch. It is typically a burning, itching kind of pain, and almost any stimulus to the affected area is painful. There can also be changes to hair and nail growth patterns. It is usually treated first with medications and physical therapy. If these treatments do not bring relief, the next step may be a series of nerve blocks. A treatment option for refractory pain includes spinal cord stimulation, i.e. placing electrical stimulators in the spinal canal to send tingling sensations into the painful extremity. If you believe you are suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, see your doctor for a full evaluation and possible referral to a pain specialist. The earlier Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is identified and treated, the better the response to treatment.