What is Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a progressive pain syndrome that most often affects one of the limbs (arms, hands, legs or feet) after trauma or injury to the limb.  Doctors believe that the syndrome is the result of damage or malfunction of the peripheral and central nervous systems.  The key symptom is prolonged pain that often is described as burning, electrical, shooting or “pins and needles” sensation.


People suffering from CRPS often experience changes in the limb that include temperature, skin color and swelling.  These changes are the result of abnormal microcirculation caused by damage to the nerves controlling blood flow and temperature.  Other common symptoms include:

  • Changes in skin texture;
  • Abnormal sweating pattern in affected areas;
  • Changes in nail and hair growth;
  • Stiffness in affected joints;
  • Decreased mobility in the affected area; or
  • Tremors or jerking of the affected limb.

Long-Term Prognosis

Children and teenagers often make a full recovery.  However, some people experience permanent pain and debilitating irreversible changes despite early medical intervention.


A variety of treatments are used in treating CRPS.  Medication may be used to treat symptoms.  In addition, therapies may include applying heat and cold, topical analgesics, physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, biofeedback and/or spinal cord stimulation. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from CRPS as a result of a personal injury, contact O’Hara Law Firm.  Patrick O'Hara understands how serious and expensive Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome is.

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