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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a broad term that covers long-lasting pain and inflammation that occurs after an injury. It can also occur after a medical event or trauma.

Usually it affects a person’s arm, leg, hand or foot and usually occurs from trauma. Commonly CRPS occurs after a fracture, surgery, sprains/strains or being in a cast. 


There is no specific test for CRPS and usually it is diagnosed by a neurologist or specialist doctor. 

There are two sub-types of CRPS. CRPS-1 occurs after illness or injury and is not associated with specific nerve damage. CRPS-2 is associated with damage to a specific nerve.


The symptoms of CRPS vary from person to person:

  • Sudden pain that can be constant or may change with activity

  • Excessive or long lasting pain after use of contact that can be deemed disproportionate

  • Changes in skin temperature, skin colour or swelling of the affected limb

  • Changes in skin temperature 

  • Sweating, nail growth or hair growth on the affected limb

  • Impaired muscle strength

Treatment options

Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiologists are well placed to assist people with a diagnosis of CRPS. They specialise in active, exercise based management to help you work towards your goals in the presence of your pain and can assist in using exercise as a therapeutic modality to ease symptoms. Staying moving is an important part of managing CRPS for your long-term function.

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