Complex Regional
Pain Syndrome

NOTE: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome was formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

CPRS has, in the past, also been known as:

Sudeck's atrophy
Algoneurodystrophypost-traumatic dystrophy
Shoulder-hand syndrome
Reflex neurovascular dystrophy
Sudeck's osteodystrophy
Traumatic vasospasm
Variable pain syndrome
Regional sympathetic dystrophy

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (or CRPS) often develops after a simple nerve injury that evolves into a crippling, painful condition that leaves victims unable to work or function normally.

The symptoms associated with CRPS may change as the syndrome progresses. For example, the patient may initially complain of a swollen limb, the next month the patient may experience coldness in limbs or even complain of a seemingly disassociated symptom such as hair loss or discolored skin. The hallmark symptom is a burning pain that usually develops within a few months of the original injury. The symptoms may spread from one limb to another or from one side of the body to another. CRPS can cross from one limb to another across the body, and even change symptoms entirely as the syndrome progresses.

Like other chronic pain syndromes, CRPS can become debilitating. Proper and prompt diagnosis is important as that can limit the negative effects of this syndrome. Unfortunately, it is often months or longer before a patient receives the proper diagnosis of CRPS.