Complex Regional Pain Syndrome And Its Management

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that most often affects one limb such as arm, leg, hand, or foot typically after an injury. However, the body’s reaction to the injury is much forceful than normal and may affect more of the limb than the actual injury did.

CRPS is believed to be caused by damage or malfunction of the peripheral and central nervous systems. The peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body and the central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms of CRPS

The key symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome are;

  • Prolonged severe and constant pain
  • Pins, needles and burnings sensations in affected limb
  • Affected limb’s skin change color, becoming blotchy, blue, purple, pale, or red
  • Unusual sweating pattern in the affected area or surrounding areas
  • Nail and hair growth patterns start changing
  • Stiffness in affected joints
  • Decreased ability to move the affected body part and problems coordinating muscle movement
  • Irregular movement in the affected limb, most often fixed abnormal posture (called dystonia) but also tremors in or jerking of the limb

Who can get CRPS?

Despite the fact that it is more common in women, complex regional pain syndrome can occur in anyone at any age, with a peak at age 40.  CRPS is rare in the elderly. Hardly children under age 10 and almost no children under age 5 are affected.


The following therapies are often used for complex regional pain syndrome:

Physical therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical therapy keep the painful limb or body part moving and improve blood flow and lessen the circulatory symptoms and can help improve the affected limb’s strength, function, and flexibility.  Rehabilitation of the affected limb also can help to prevent or reverse the secondary brain changes that are associated with chronic pain.


Several different classes of medication have been reported to be effective for complex regional pain syndrome which might include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, bisphosphonates, opioids, and botulinum toxin injections.

Sympathetic nerve block

Some individuals report temporary pain relief from sympathetic nerve blocks, but this technique is failed to provide long-term benefit.  It involves injecting an anesthetic next to the spine to directly block the activity of sympathetic nerves and improve blood flow.

Spinal cord stimulation

Placing stimulating electrodes through a needle into the spine near the spinal cord also work as complex regional pain syndrome treatment. It provides a tingling sensation in the painful area

Zaki Anwar MD is an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist. He has great expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, sciatica pain and various pain conditions. His center has offering various treatment options including stem cell therapy, amniotic fluid injection and much more.

For further queries call on 815.412.6166