What is complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is characterized by continuous severe and incapacitating discomfort or pain. Even though most cases are instigated by injuries, the resulting discomfort is relatively more severe and lasts longer than usual.

The pain is generally limited to one limb but it can radiate to other body parts. As for the skin in the affected body part, it becomes highly sensitive to even a slight touch, bump or even changes in temperature. The affected areas can also become rigid, swollen or undergo varying changes in temperature or color.

Most cases steadily settle to a certain degree over time or settle entirely. Nevertheless, some do not go away and the individual continues to experience discomfort for several years.

When to consult a doctor

A doctor should be consulted if the individual experiences continuous pain or discomfort that prevents him/her from performing daily activities and tasks.


The pain is generally limited to one limb but it can radiate to other body parts.

Complex regional pain syndrome is usually hard to diagnose since it involves a variety of tests to exclude other potential causes. It is vital to seek medical help as soon as possible since early treatment can lessen needless suffering.

Management of complex regional pain syndrome

The treatment for complex regional pain syndrome generally involves 4 major aspects such as:

  • Self-care and education – the individual should be provided with clear information about the condition and any advice on steps to take to control the condition
  • Physical rehabilitation – this helps in managing the symptoms as well as lower the risk for lasting physical issues such as physiotherapy exercises
  • Pain control – this is aimed on lowering the pain such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants
  • Psychological support – this includes measures to help the individual cope with the emotional strain of living with the condition specifically cognitive behavioral therapy

As a multifaceted condition, the management of complex regional pain syndrome involves several healthcare professionals.


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