Affecting approximately 200,000 individuals in the United States, CRPS/RSD is a chronic neuro-inflammatory disorder. 

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome)?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), previously known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is a chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in the skin that occurs in response to injury. Experts believe that CRPS occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system.

CRPS can strike at any age and affects both men and women, although most experts agree it is more common in young women.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

The key CRPS symptom is continuous, intense pain out of proportion to the severity of the inciting injury. This pain gets worse rather than better over time. CRPS most often affects one of the extremities and is often accompanied by:
• Burning pain
• Increased skin sensitivity
• Changes in skin temperature
• Changes in skin color
• Changes in skin texture
• Changes in nail or hair growth patterns
• Swelling or stiffness in affected joints
• Motor disability

What causes CRPS?

Doctors are not exactly sure what causes CRPS. The most recent theories suggest that many cases of CRPS occur after a forceful trauma to an arm or leg, such as a gunshot wound, surgery, crush injury, fracture, and even sprained ankle due to changes in the sensitivity of the involved nerves. It is not well understood why these injuries that typically heal without long-term consequences sometimes result in CRPS.

What CRPS treatment options are available?

Dramatic improvement and even remission of CRPS is possible. CRPS treatment options include:
• Physical Therapy
• Applying hot and cold packs
• Capsaicin Cream
• Medical Management
• Sympatholytic medications
• Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS Unit)
• Biofeedback
• Stellate Ganglion and Lumbar Sympathetic Plexus Blocks
• Ketamine Infusions
• Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
• Spinal Cord Stimulation
• Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation Therapy
• Intrathecal Drug Delivery

For additional information on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome please call the Carolinas Pain Institute to schedule an appointment with one of our pain management specialists.