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Weekend Column: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic pain condition that most often affects one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet). Commonly following injury or trauma to a limb, CRPS is believed to be caused by the damaging or malfunctioning of the peripheral and central nervous systems.

The central and peripheral nervous systems are composed of the brain and spinal cord. The central and peripheral nervous systems entail nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. There are several symptoms related to CRPS, and it is distinguished by prolonged or excessive pain, among other symptoms.

The main symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Heightened sensitivity to touch
  • Prolonged pain that may feel like “pins and needles”
  • Inability to move a joint normally
  • Pain may stay in one area or spread throughout a limb or potentially other parts of the body


Changes in temperature, color or swollenness of the area may be visible.

Treatments for CRPS include rehabilitation, physical therapy, medication, neural stimulation and others. Patients dealing with long-term pain related to CRPS should consider asking their physician about a referral to a pain management specialist.

Treatment plans typically include the tailored use of physical therapy, medication management, and interventional procedures such as epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, selective nerve root blocks and radiofrequency ablations.

Andrius Giedraitis, MD

Pain Management

Blanchard Valley Pain Management

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