Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a chronic pain condition which, since first being discovered, has been split into two further types. It’s a condition which usually effects an area of a single limb but it can spread and it is usually related to a trauma or injury in the area where the pain is coming from.
CRPS comes in two forms referred to commonly as CRPS Type 1 and CRPS Type 2. CRPS Type 1 was formerly known as Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome or RSD, although most people, especially medical professionals will now call RSD CRPS as this is the universally accepted term.
According to Mayo Clinic 90% of all sufferers of CRPS are diagnosed with CRPS Type 1 and is it different from Type 2 as it occurs after an illness or injury that didn’t cause any direct damage to the nerves in the affected limb.
Diagnosing CRPS Type 1 is particularly difficult as there is no damage to the nerves and usually no damage to the bone and little damage to the tissue. The pain is out of proportion to the accident or injury that occurred and the main symptoms are usually allodynia, continuing pain, and hyperalgesia, disproportionate pain to touch, movement or pressure.
CRPS Type 1 is usually diagnosed if the above symptoms are found as well as some kind of oedema, changes to the blood flow (and therefore temperature) in the affected area and other conditions have been ruled out.
Testing for CRPS Type 1 includes a wide range of scans and tests which doctors can organise, most of which are used to rule out other conditions to reach a diagnosis of this syndrome. Blood tests, MRI scans and further examination including nerve conditioning testing maybe organised and carried out before a diagnosis is made.
Once you have received a diagnosis of CRPS Type 1 your doctor will usually organise a specific course of pain relief and refer you to the pain clinic, usually held at your local hospital, where a full treatment plan can be organised to help you manage your condition and help alleviate the symptoms.