riverhills neuroscience logo

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a unique neurological condition that can cause searing and often disabling pain in an arm or leg. At Riverhills Neuroscience, multidisciplinary specialists with the unique skills needed to treat CRPS come together, including interventional pain management specialists, neurologists, and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists. There are three Cincinnati, Ohio, area offices in Norwood, Westside, and Anderson, as well as an office in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, so if you’re struggling with CRPS, call the one nearest you or click the online contact form to get more information about treatment now.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Q&A

What is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

CRPS describes severe prolonged pain that usually occurs in one arm or leg. The condition often arises after a traumatic experience, such as an injury, stroke, heart attack, or surgery. The pain is disproportionate to the triggering experience. 

Experts believe that CRPS may occur because of malfunction or damage in the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals. It’s unclear why some people develop it and others with the same experience do not. 

For some people, chronic regional pain syndrome goes away on its own, but for others, it may become a long-term condition, persisting for years. 

What are the signs of chronic regional pain syndrome? 

CRPS affects every person differently, and intensity can vary. Symptoms usually affect one arm, leg, hand, or foot and may include:

  • Burning pain
  • Throbbing pain
  • Swelling
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Touch sensitivity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tightening (contracture)
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Skin grows very cold or warm
  • Skin looks very pale, mottled, or bluish
  • Skin thinning 
  • Shiny skin
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails 
  • Unusually slow or fast hair and nail growth

CRPS symptoms usually start around a month to six weeks after the triggering experience, although there’s no clear-cut trigger in some cases.

What does CRPS diagnosis involve? 

CRPS is a complicated condition with an equally complicated diagnostic process. There’s no single test for CRPS, and other neurological conditions may cause many of the same symptoms. So, you may need tests to rule out other conditions. For example, electromyography (EMG) can detect other causes of nerve pain.

Usually, data collected from in-depth medical history reviews, careful physical exams, and several types of tests helps doctors determine whether you have CRPS. You may need X-rays, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a bone scan, or a sweat production test. 

Is chronic regional pain syndrome treatable?

CRPS is a treatable condition, and the premier specialists at Riverhills Neuroscience are experts in every aspect of treatment for this challenging condition. 

The multidisciplinary providers create personalized CRPS treatment plans from across the fields of neurology, interventional pain management, neurosurgery, behavioral health, and physical medicine and rehabilitation based on your individual needs.

Often, a combination treatment approach works best for people with CRPS. If you’re struggling with chronic pain in one limb, call Riverhills Neuroscience or request more treatment information online now.