Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses travel to the affected area of the body. Complex regional pain syndrome is also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.

The symptoms and signs of CRPS can vary in their severity and length. Associated symptoms include continuous, intense pain that gets worse over time. The pain may seem out of proportion to the severity of the injury or cause of the pain. Other signs and symptoms of CRPS may include burning pain, joint swelling, joint stiffness, problems moving the affected area, changes in hair growth, and changes in skin temperature.

Causes of complex regional pain syndrome

The cause of CRPS is not well understood and may result from a mixture of different factors such as abnormal responsiveness to nerve signals.

Other complex regional pain syndrome symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Posture (Dystonia)
  • Abnormal Sweating in Affected Area
  • Burning Pain
  • Changes in Hair Growth and Nail Patterns
  • Changes in Skin Temperature
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Intense Pain That Gets Worse With Time
  • Loss of Muscle
  • Motor Disability
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Pins and Needles Sensation
  • Stress Worsens Signs and Symptoms
  • Stiffness and Swelling in Certain Joints
  • Tremors in Affected Limb


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.