Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a disorder in which the patient feels persistent pain in a limb or extremity following a major trauma, heart attack, stroke, or difficult surgery. Aside from pain, other symptoms include sensitivity, limited mobility, changes in appearance (skin color, texture, hair, nails), differences in temperature from other body parts, swelling, muscle cramps, trembling, burning, and stiffness. There are two types of CRPS that present comparable symptoms: The most common is reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome or RSD (when no nerve injury is present) and the other is known as causalgia (when a nerve injury is present).
The pain specialist will run a variety of tests to better understand the patient’s condition and recommend treatments according to the specific test findings, symptoms, and severity. It is likely that the treatment plan will include some combination of medication (including anti-inflammatory medication, pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, steroids, and/or osteoporosis medicines), topical creams, pain-relieving injections, physical therapy, electrical nerve and spine stimulation, and intraspinal pain management therapy.