Complex regional pain syndrome

Alternative Names

CRPS; RSDS; Causalgia – RSD; Shoulder-hand syndrome; Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome; Sudeck’s atrophy

Definition of Complex regional pain syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that can affect any area of the body, but often affects an arm or a leg.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Doctors aren’t sure what causes CRPS. In some cases, the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in the pain. Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area.

Symptoms

The key symptom is pain that:

Signs and tests

Diagnosing CRPS can be difficult, but early diagnosis is very important.

Treatment

There is no cure for CRPS, but the disease can be slowed. The main focus is on relieving the symptoms and helping people with this syndrome live as normal a life as possible.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook is better with an early diagnosis. If the doctor diagnoses the condition within the first stage, sometimes signs of the disease may disappear (remission) and normal movement is possible.

Review

Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/9/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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