Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a type of chronic pain syndrome. CRPS was formerly called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and shoulder-hand syndrome. CRPS causes severe burning pain and possible eventual deterioration of an affected arm or leg. The cause of CRPS is unknown, but it can develop following an injury, stroke, or heart attack. Prompt treatment is associated with the best outcomes. If untreated, CPRS can cause irreversible extremity deterioration.
AnatomyThe sympathetic nervous system is a part of the complex system that regulates involuntary bodily functions. These are bodily functions that run automatically and are necessary for life. Your sympathetic nervous system speeds up your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels, sends blood to your vital organs, raises your blood pressure, raises your blood sugar level, and increases sweating. It energizes your body for immediate action in response to an emergency or “flight or fight” situation.
SurgerySurgery is rarely indicated for CRPS. For those cases in which the syndrome is caused by nerve injury or compression, surgery to resolve the problem can help relieve symptoms.
You may be referred to rehabilitation, including aquatic therapy. Participating in rehabilitation will help ease symptoms and improve function in your limb. Your therapists may use modalities, such as application of hot and cold treatments or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) unit. Desensitization techniques may be helpful for hypersensitivity. Additionally, aquatic therapy can provide a warm and supportive environment for you to safely exercise. In many cases treated with injections, therapy should immediately follow an injection, to take advantage of the relief the injection may provide.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.