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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Erstwhile known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome or RSDS, the complex regional pain syndrome is a condition due to an injury/surgery in which the pain and discomfort are much more as compared to the injury itself. It affects the extremities of the body like arms, legs, feet, or hands but can spread throughout the body. The discomfort can be extremely severe and the slightest touch or even temperature variation can trigger sharp pain. Medical experts have classified CRPS into two types:


  • Type 1: In this type, there is no nerve damage observed and it accounts for the majority of the CRPS cases.

  • Type 2: Nerve damage is observed in this type of CRPS.


CRPS is generally uncommon and the probability of complex regional pain syndrome is more in women than men. Early treatment can help reduce pain and improve the condition of the patient.

Reasons behind Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Medical experts are still not sure what the root cause of this condition is. However, it is believed that CRPS is caused by multiple underlying conditions ranging from nerve-inflammation to change in the “perception of pain” in the patient’s mind. Other theories suggest that the patient becomes hypersensitive to nervous system neurotransmitters called catecholamines. Scientists have found evidence of inflammation-causing chemicals at the affected body part. There is a possibility that autoimmune responses and genetic factors might contribute to the development of this condition.


Earlier, CRPS was considered to be a psychosomatic condition but the latest research has discarded this theory.

Symptoms of CRPS

There are various symptoms of CRPS as mentioned below:

  • Persisting pain in the limbs that aggravates over time.

  • Pain that spreads from the affected limb to other parts of the body.

  • Change in the temperature, color, and texture of the skin in the affected region. The skin may become cold or warm; white in color or red.

  • The body part affected becomes sensitive to touch and temperature variation.

  • Joint pain, restricted motion, stiffness, and weakness is experienced by the patient.

  • Patients might experience muscle spasms, tremors, and atrophy. Swelling is also observed in the region.

  • Altered growth of the hair and nails.


Treating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

There are a plethora of treatments that are employed to cure CRPS. At Dunes Pain Clinic, we administer a combination of various treatments according to the condition of the patient.


  • Physio and Occupational Therapy: Physical therapy might stimulate your muscles, making them strong and flexible; TENS therapy can also be employed. The occupational therapist will guide you in doing everyday activities with less pain.

  • Mirror Therapy: This mental therapy is performed in front of a mirror in which the opposite limb is moved, but the patient’s brain thinks that the affected limb is moving, tricking itself to experience no pain.


  • Graded Therapy: This is a combination of therapies like mirror therapy, motor imagery & laterality reconstruction.

  • Psychological counseling: Educating people about the condition; reducing their stress/anxiety and giving them instructions to deal with the pain.

  • Medication: Drugs like painkillers, steroids, opioids, and antidepressants might be administered to the patients.

  • Surgical Procedures: In extreme cases, surgical procedures like radiofrequency sympathectomy, spinal cord stimulators, and minimally invasive surgical procedures like nerve blocks can be administered to reduce the pain.

Call us for consultation with Dunes Pain Clinic! Our medical experts have all the required competencies to tackle this complex condition.

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