Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that typically affects an arm or a leg and develops after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack. It is uncommon and the cause is not clearly understood.
Signs and Symptoms of CRPS
Nonstop burning or throbbing pain
Sensitivity to touch or cold
Changes in skin temperature
Changes in skin color
Changes in hair and nail growth
Joint stiffness, swelling, and damage
Decreased ability to move the affected body part
Signs and symptoms may change over time, with pain, swelling, redness, and noticeable changes in temperature being the first ones to occur. Over time, the affected limb may become cold and pale and may be accompanied by muscle spasms and tightening.
Types of CRPS
Also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, this type occurs after an illness or injury that indirectly damages the nerves in the affected limb. It is the dominant type to occur in patients with about 90% of individuals experiencing Type 1.
This type has similar properties to Type 1, but follows a direct nerve injury.
Causes of CRPS
In many cases, a forceful trauma to an arm or leg causes CRPS. Other major and minor traumas, including surgery, heart attacks, infections, and sprains can lead to CRPS.