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Complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS is a chronic pain condition that usually affects the limbs, often an arm, hand, leg or foot after a surgery, injury, stroke or heart attack. It is a long-term (chronic) condition that will exacerbate with time. It is characterized by excessive pain, changes in skin color in the affected area, temperature changes or swelling.
There are two stages of complex regional pain syndrome: CRPS-I and CRPS-II.

  • CRPS-I is diagnosed to patients who have this condition but without the confirmed nerve injury also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.
  • CRPS-II is diagnosed in patients with a confirmed nerve injury also known as causalgia.

Though divided into two stages, the treatment is similar. It is also important to note that the CRPS symptoms can vary in severity and duration from one person to the other.
CRPS is more common in women and can occur to anyone at any age. However, it is very rare for children to get it that is below 10 and almost no cases ever reported for children age under 5.
The main symptom of CRPS is prolonged, severe pain that is persistent. It is often described by individuals with CRPS as a burning, tingling sensations on the affected limb. The pain can involve the entire arm or leg, even if the site of injury only involved a finger or toe. Increased sensitivity to skin involved may be also present. This condition is called allodyna, where even normal to the affected skin can be very painful.

Changes in skin temperature, skin color or swelling are also common on the affected limb. This is because of the damage made to the nerves controlling blood flow and temperature. Due to this condition, the affected area may be warmer or colder than the normal limbs.

Other symptoms may include:

  • There is a change in skin texture, it may appear shiny and thin
  • The affected area may have an abnormal sweating pattern
  • Growth patterns in nail and hair may change
  • Stiffness is also experienced in the affected joints
  • Muscle coordination is also difficult and often results in immobility
  • Tremors and jerking of the affected limb is also common

To understand what causes CRPS and its treatment, please visit:

If you think you are suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).