Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Usually after an injury or trauma, a painful condition occurs that affects one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands or feet), which is Complex Regional Pain syndrome also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.

The signs and symptoms of complex regional syndrome include:

  • Continuous throbbing or burning pain, usually in your arm, leg, hand or foot
  • Sensitivity to touch or cold.
  • Swelling of the painful area
  • Changes in skin temperature, in skin color and skin texture
  • Changes in nail and hair growth
  • Joint stiffness, swelling and damage
  • Muscle spasms, weakness and loss
  • Difficult to move the affected body part

There are two types of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome:

CPRS 1: Known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. This appears usually after a minor injury often from a motor vehicle accident. In such cases it becomes difficult for the doctors to immediately identify a nerve injury. The patients with this have unconfirmed nerve injuries.

CPRS 2: also known as causalgia. It is caused by an injury to the nerve. The patients with this have confirmed and diagnosed nerve injuries.

Cause of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

There is often history of an injury. The injury may be very minor such as a cut to the finger. The symptoms as such are not related to the severity of the injury.

CPRS can also start after other problems such as head injury, stroke, heart attack or prolonged bed rest.

CPRS is rarely found in elderly and children. However, it can affect both men and women at any age. It is usually caused by the damage or malfunction of peripheral and central nervous systems. The central nervous system is composed of the brain and the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system involves nerves signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.