Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), is a condition that causes pain; swelling; changes in skin color, texture and temperature and other symptoms. It usually affects your extremities – an arm, leg, hand or foot – but can affect any part of your body.
Most cases of CRPS start after a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain), fracture or surgery. The pain can be intense and is much more than what would be expected during recovery from an injury, fracture or surgery.
Experts believe that CRPS occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems. Your central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord. Your peripheral nervous system relays information from your brain and spinal cord to your organs, arms, legs, fingers, and toes. The abnormal functioning results in an overreaction to pain signals that the nervous system can’t shut off.
CRPS is not widely known by many doctors and is not well understood, so it’s often misdiagnosed. Many patients receive the wrong treatments or no treatment at all.