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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare condition that causes chronic pain in one or more affected limbs, commonly your legs, arms, hands or feet. While it is not fully understood, early diagnosis and treatment help you manage your pain and recover from this condition.

In over 90 percent of cases, some form of injury has occurred to the affected limb before CRPS begins. The injury can range from something as minor as a needlestick, to a broken bone or more severe trauma. It is not clear why some people develop CRPS while others with similar injuries do not. In rare cases, CRPS occurs without evidence of a previous injury.

The injury may cause damage to nerves that results in moderate to severe pain. The pain may feel like pins and needles, a burning sensation or like the limb is being squeezed. Even if the injury only occurred in a finger or toe, the entire limb may develop signs of CRPS. CRPS may go away over time or become chronic pain that must be controlled by pain management physicians.

Signs and symptoms of CRPS only appear in the affected limb and may include:

  • Sensitivity to even a light touch
  • Swelling
  • Abnormal movements like shaking or twitching
  • Weakness or inability to move
  • Joint stiffness
  • Change in nail or hair growth
  • Change of skin texture
  • Change of skin color
  • Change of skin temperature

If you experience extreme pain or swelling in a limb, always seek medical attention. While it may be CRPS, the symptoms may also point to other serious conditions. Only a physician can provide the careful diagnosis necessary.

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is painful and frightening. Indiana University Health Pain Management physicians have years of experience helping patients through this difficult condition. We understand the challenges you are facing. We focus on treating chronic pain conditions, such as CRPS, and offering advanced therapies to manage your symptoms and prevent further damage.

IU Health physicians work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that reduces pain, sensitivity and stiffness associated with CRPS. Physical therapy ensures your affected limb continues to function as normally as possible. Pain medicine or nerve stimulation help to alleviate your pain. Our fellowship-trained physicians use these tools and more to allow you to participate more fully in daily life as you recover from CRPS.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Treatment Information

IU Health provides the most advanced therapies to control pain and manage symptoms of CRPS, including:


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Locations & Physicians

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Support Services

CRPS can be confusing and keep you from doing the things you love. Learn more about the condition and find support groups at the websites below: