Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a relatively uncommon general upper extremity condition we see at The Hand and Wrist Institute in Dallas, Texas. With approximately 200,000 diagnoses in the United States per year, this condition remains largely misunderstood. This intensive condition can cause severe pain and usually affects the hand, arm, foot, or lower leg. In this article, we explore what CRPS is, what its symptoms can be, and how it’s treated.

What Is CRPS?

CRPS, previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, is a chronic pain condition where you face severe and prolonged discomfort that typically affects one of your arms or legs. The pain is often out of proportion to the initial injury or trauma and may be accompanied by changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling.

CRPS is believed to involve dysfunction of the nervous system, with symptoms ranging from intense burning or throbbing pain to changes in skin texture and sensitivity. The exact cause of CRPS isn’t fully understood, but it may be triggered by an injury or surgery. Early diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment, including physical therapy and medication, are key for managing CRPS and improving your quality of life if you’re affected by this challenging condition.

What Are the Symptoms of CRPS?

CRPS is characterized by a variety of symptoms that typically affect one limb, often after an injury or trauma. The symptoms can vary in severity and may change over time. The most common symptoms of CRPS may include:

It’s important to note that the combination or intensity of symptoms tends to vary from person to person. The exact cause of CRPS isn’t fully understood, and it can develop after various types of injuries and surgeries or even without an apparent reason. It’s always important to schedule an appointment with a specialist, such as one of our Dallas hand surgeons, for appropriate treatment.

How Is CRPS Treated?

The treatment of CRPS typically involves a multidisciplinary approach that aims to manage your pain, increase function, and improve your overall quality of life. Treatment modalities may include:

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of the treatment can vary from patient to patient. What works well for one person may not work well for another, and a tailored approach is necessary. Early intervention and a comprehensive treatment plan, often involving a team of health care professionals, are key to managing CRPS successfully. We encourage you to work closely with your health care providers to determine the most appropriate and effective combination of treatments for your specific condition.

When To Schedule an Appointment

If you’re experiencing constant burning, throbbing, or shooting pain that affects a limb and makes it hard to touch or move your limb, we recommend booking an appointment.  Our Dallas, Texas, hand surgeons at The Hand and Wrist Institute can provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a personalized treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.