Facts About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

CRPS True/False:

The “C” of CRPS stands for “Chronic”.

False.  Although the pain associated with CRPS is chronic, the acronym stands for “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”, and typically involves at least one arm or leg after that limb is injured, although any part of the body is susceptible.  CRPS comes into the picture when excessive or prolonged pain of the area can be attributed to dysfunction of the nerves (and peripheral nervous system) in that same area.  The nerves can either be damaged, intact but dysfunctional, or can’t transmit signals to the Central Nervous System correctly.  Because of this dysfunction, changes in skin temperature, skin color, or swelling of the affected area are common in CRPS.

CRPS I and CRPS II have different symptoms.

False.  CRPS I and II have the same symptoms.  The difference between the two lies in the confirmation of injury to the nerves in the affected area.  If nerve injury has been confirmed, this is known as CRPS II (and used to be called “causalgia”).  Patients who have not had confirmation of nerve injury are said to have CRPS I (also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome). 

CRPS only occurs after a traumatic physical injury.

False.  When it does occur, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome typically follows an injury.  However, that injury could be sustained from a heart attack, stroke, or from surgery.

The pain of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can spread to another area of the body.

True.  In the majority of patients with CRPS, the pain from the original affected area will spread to an additional area.

Injuries to the head, face, neck, or shoulders will never result in CRPS.

False.  Although the four main limbs of the body are common sites of CRPS pain, CRPS can involve the “nerves, skin, muscle, blood vessels, as well as bones…of the face, shoulders, back, eyes, and other areas”.  –American RSDHope web site: http://www.rsdhope.org/what-is-crps.html