Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Causes and Symptoms

What Causes of Regional Pain Syndrome?

There is no single cause, but rather multiple causes that produce many symptoms. Clinical research suggests that pain receptors in the affected area of the body become responsive to a group of nervous system messengers called catecholamines. In injury-related cases, the CRPS syndrome can be caused by an immune response triggering which may lead to multiple inflammatory symptoms such as redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected area of the body. It is also believed that CRPS may interfere with the healing process. CRPS can also be heightened by emotional stress. Chronic pain management may become necessary for the patient to find relief from their symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

The most common symptom of CRPS is intense, continuous pain that worsens rather than diminishing over time. CRPS symptoms vary in severity and length. A simple injury to a finger can spread to include the whole arm and in some cases travel to the opposite extremity. The most common symptoms of CRPS are:

  • Swelling in affected joints
  • Stiffness in affected joints
  • Burning pain
  • Changes in nail and hair growth patterns, including rapid or no growth
  • Motor disability such as a decreased ability to move the affected body part
  • Significant changes in skin temperature and appearance. The skin on one extremity can appear warmer or cooler compared to the opposite extremity. Skin can change color and appear blotchy, purple pale or red. The skin may sometimes sweat excessively.


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