How CRPS is caused is not totally understood. Scientists think it might be a combination of factors that produce similar symptoms. They think CRPS is the result of general inflammation, inflammation of the nerves and perhaps even changes in a person’s perception of pain in the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system).
Researchers have found certain signs of inflammation – certain substances and chemicals – in the affected tissue, blood and spinal fluid of patients with CRPS. They have also found evidence of the release of certain pain- and inflammation-producing compounds in nerves in the affected area. There may also be dysfunction in the messaging between nerves at the site of injury. There are also signs of other substances and chemicals being released at the affected site, which results in an overreaction or oversensitivity to the sensation of pain in response to the injury. Autoimmune and genetic causes may also play a role in the development of CRPS. Researchers continue to look for and further understand causes of this condition.