Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Signs to Take Seriously

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Signs to Take Seriously

Pain in one of your extremities may be a sign of a minor injury or a symptom of complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS). This serious neurological issue causes symptoms in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.

CRPS can affect every aspect of life and often occurs after surgery or an acute injury. Knowing the signs of CRPS helps you determine when you need expert treatment.

Dr. Schachi Patel and the Delmarva Pain and Spine Center team are experts in treating various forms of pain. Dr. Patel provides fast diagnoses and cutting-edge treatments for patients with CRPS and other chronic pain issues.

What is complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a neurological issue that causes pain and other symptoms. It usually affects the extremities but can also affect other parts of the body.

Some research points to dysfunction in both the peripheral and central nervous systems with CRPS. When these parts of the body malfunction, it can lead to an exaggerated pain response that the body can't shut off.

CRPS happens for many reasons, some of which are unknown. However, prevalent causes of CRPS include:

Some people have CRPS for a short time after an acute injury, while others have chronic symptoms for more than three months. The symptoms and treatment depend on the cause of CRPS and the severity of the problem.

Symptoms of CRPS you shouldn't ignore

The signs and symptoms of CRPS typically begin within a few weeks after surgery or an injury – or they may develop without any known cause. Awareness of the symptoms of CRPS is essential for knowing when to seek treatment.

There are several symptoms of CRPS that you shouldn't ignore, and they include the following:

Increased sensitivity

CRPS typically causes an increased sensitivity to pain, especially with things that shouldn't hurt much, like a pinch to your skin. You may also feel pain when touching the skin, which doesn't usually cause discomfort.

Skin color changes

Color changes on the skin of the affected limb may signal CRPS. Your skin could appear blotchy, red, purple, or look bruised.

Skin texture changes

Some people with CRPS may notice differences in their skin texture. The skin may appear shiny, sweaty, or thinner than the surrounding skin.


Numbness or decreased sensation in the affected limb is another worrisome symptom of CRPS that you should take seriously.

Skin swelling

Swelling in the affected limb is a common sign of CRPS. The swelling may come and go or remain constant.

Changes in skin temperature

When you have CRPS, one arm or leg may feel a different temperature. Depending on what nerves are affected, it could feel warmer or cooler.

Trouble moving the affected limb

CRPS also causes issues with functionality in the affected limb. You could notice extra stiffness or inability to put weight on the affected limb. These changes may make it hard to move the arm or leg.

Seeking treatment for CRPS symptoms

If you're showing signs of CRPS, seeking treatment early on is essential to getting relief quickly. Since there's no definitive test to diagnose CRPS, Dr. Patel carefully evaluates your skin and extremities to determine the cause of discomfort.

She asks you about any recent injuries or surgical procedures that could trigger CRPS. Dr. Patel may also order imaging studies or an EMG to determine nerve damage and issues causing CRPS symptoms.

The treatment for CRPS varies depending on the severity of your symptoms. Dr. Patel offers various pain management techniques, including dorsal root ganglion stimulation (DRG).

The DRG is a surgical procedure you have after trialing the stimulator to see if it helps your pain. Dr. Patel applies electrodes to the dorsal root ganglion, which emits electrical impulses from the pulse generator.

DRG stimulation is an excellent option for people living with CRPS who can't find relief through noninvasive techniques or lifestyle changes.

If you think you're showing signs of CRPS, don't hesitate to call our office in Newark, Delaware, today at 302-355-0900 or request a consultation on the website.  

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