What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? What Triggers CRPS?

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? What Triggers CRPS?

Published: February 14, 2020

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a form of chronic pain that most often affects an arm or leg. It is fairly uncommon, and its causes are still not clearly understood by the medical industry. So if you’ve recently been diagnosed with CRPS or suspect you may have this syndrome, you may be wondering, “What is complex regional pain syndrome? What triggers CRPS?” Fortunately, the Texas pain specialists at the San Antonio offices of Dr. Raul Martinez are here to answer these questions, and more, about this widely-misunderstood syndrome. 

Read on to learn more about CRPS pain, CRPS treatment (including treatment for CRPS in foot– or arm-pain sufferers), and more.

What Triggers CRPS?

The cause for CRPS remains unknown, but there are certain events that are known to trigger it in many patients. Typically, CRPS develops after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack. However, it is unclear why CRPS develops in some patients and not in others. It is likely that there is more than one cause for the condition. Some experts believe that some types of CRPS arise when pain receptors in the affected body part develop responsiveness to catecholamines, which are nervous system messengers. In injury-related CRPS, the syndrome may be triggered by an immune response.  

Although CRPS usually begins in one area of the body, it can spread from the initial area and can affect any part of the body.

What are the Symptoms of CRPS?

Symptoms of this syndrome vary in length and severity. A major symptom is continuous and intense pain that worsens over time. In many cases, the pain is seemingly disproportionate to the injury that caused it. For example, an injury to a finger may cause pain along the entire arm. Furthermore, symptoms may change over time and vary widely from one patient to another—though pain, redness, swelling, and hypersensitivity to cold and touch are usually the first to appear.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Continuous burning or throbbing pain
  • Changes in skin color or skin texture—skin may appear mottled, red, blue, shiny, or thin in affected areas
  • Muscle spasms, weakness, and tremors
  • Sensitivity to touch or cold temperatures
  • Skin temperature fluctuations (alternating between cold and sweaty)
  • A decrease inability to move the affected body part
  • Changes in hair and/or nail growth
  • Joint stiffness and swelling

Treatment for CRPS

Sadly, there is still no cure for CRPS. However, there are many ways that patients can manage their symptoms. Medications, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, psychotherapy, and physical therapy are just a few of the treatment options that are available for CRPS patients.

It is important to treat CRPS symptoms early, because patients who undergo early interventions tend to have the best outcomes. In fact, some studies have demonstrated that early treatment can prevent long-term pain and loss of functioning.

Are You Experiencing CRPS Symptoms? Our Texas Pain Specialists Can Help

Our specialized physicians at the offices of Dr. Raul Martinez have helped thousands of patients with chronic pain symptoms, and we design custom treatment plans for each of our patients—including patients with CRPS. We can help you find a CRPS treatment plan that works for your CRPS pain. Treatment for CRPS in foot– or arm-pain sufferers is one of our specialties, and we can help you manage your symptoms so you can improve your quality of life.

Whether you’re seeking a CRPS diagnosis, looking for a second opinion about your condition, or are just hoping to learn about treatment options, we’re here for you. To schedule an appointment at our San Antonio clinic, fill out our patient forms, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


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Published: February 14, 2020

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