Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a poorly understood condition in which a person experiences persistent severe and debilitating pain.

Although most cases of CRPS are triggered by an injury, the resulting pain is much more severe and long-lasting than normal.

The pain isusually confined to one limb, but it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.

The skin of the affected body part can become so sensitive thatjusta slight touch, bump or even a change in temperature can provoke intense pain.

Affected areascan also become swollen, stiff or undergo fluctuating changes in colour or temperature.

Many cases of CRPS gradually improve to some degree over time, or get completely better. However, some cases of CRPS never go away, and the affected person will experience pain for many years.

It's best to seek help as soon as possible, because early treatment may reduce unnecessary suffering.

A study claimed that up to 1 in 3,800 people in the UK develop CRPS each year.

CRPS can begin at any age, including in children, although the average age for symptoms to start is around 50. Women make up around 3 out of 4 cases.

Treating CRPS

Treatment for CRPS involvesfour main aspects:

  • education and self-managementbeing given clear information about your condition and advice on any steps you can take to help manage your condition yourself
  • physical rehabilitationtreatment to help manage yoursymptoms and reduce the risk of long-term physical problems, such as physiotherapyexercises
  • pain relieftreatments to help reduce your pain, such as anticonvulsants or antidepressants
  • psychological supportinterventions to help you cope with the emotional impact of living with CRPS, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Due to the complex nature of CRPS, a number of different professionals will usually be involved in your care.

Neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain is caused by problems with the bodys nerves, either because the nervous system is not working properly or because the nerves themselves have been damaged.
Remission is when the symptoms of a condition are reduced (partial remission) or go away completely (complete remission).
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016