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St. Mark's Hospital
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Taylorsville Emergency Center
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Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

Definition

Chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) refers to a chronic condition that affects the nerves and blood vessels of 1 or more limbs.

There are 2 types of CRPS:

  • CRPS 1, previously called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD, has no observable nerve damage.
  • CRPS 2, previously called causalgia, produces similar symptoms after a verified nerve injury has occurred.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


Causes

The cause of CRPS is not known. The condition likely results from several factors. It may involve overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. Inflammation may also play a role in the disorder.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a pain specialist. Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Bone scan

The electrical activity in your nerves and muscles may need to be tested. This can be done with:

  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Electromyography

You may need to have your body’s heat measured. This can be done with a thermogram.

You may need to have your autonomic nervous system evaluated. This can be done with quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test (QSART), resting sweat output (RSO), or the resting skin temperature (RST).