A Brief Overview of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Author(s): Anette Jacobs

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), often called reflex sympathetic dystrophy, is a collection of painful disorders characterised by chronic regional pain that appears to be unrelated to any known trauma or other lesion in terms of duration or severity. Complex regional pain syndrome is caused by changes in the somatosensory systems, which interpret noxious, tactile, and temperature information, the sympathetic systems, which innervate skin structures such as blood vessels and sweat glands and the somatomotor systems, which control movement. The changes suggest that the models of the central nervous system have been revised. The peripheral nerve system of patients with complicated regional pain syndrome is aberrant. The most common symptoms include pain (spontaneous pain, hyperalgesia, and allodynia), active and passive movement disorders (including increased physiological tremor), abnormal regulation of blood flow and sweating, oedema of skin and subcutaneous tissues, and trophic changes of skin, skin organs, and subcutaneous tissues. The complex regional pain syndrome is characterised by inflammation caused by nerves release of certain pro-inflammatory chemical signals, sensitised nerve receptors that send pain signals to the brain, dysfunction of the local blood vessels ability to constrict and dilate appropriately, and maladaptive neuroplasticity.