Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

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What is it?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a painful condition of the nervous system involving one or more of the extremities. In this condition, the nervous system gets activated in a pathologic manner and causes severe nerve pain. Sometimes there can be an inciting event or trauma that initiates the condition as well, such as surgery, a motor vehicle accident, or simply bumping an extremity against a hard surface. However, an inciting event is not always identified, and the condition can appear to come out of nowhere.

Common signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms are sharp, burning pain that can make it painful to even touch the skin of the affected area. Other symptoms may include loss of range of motion, color change, temperature change, change in hair and nail growth, swelling, and even atrophy of the extremity.

Treatment

Treatment strategy starts with medication management and physical therapy. If this fails to improve the symptoms, then interventional procedures are the next steps. The interventional treatments include sympathetic nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and spinal cord stimulation or dorsal root ganglion stimulation. Dorsal root ganglion stimulation is an excellent option for CRPS in patients who have not responded to less invasive interventions.