Symptoms & Signs Of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Pain

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Pain is characterized by allodynia, hyperalgesia and hyperpathia (see pathophysiology). Pain caused by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is severe and intense as well as widespread.

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Pain

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Pain is Secondary to

  • Neurogenic Inflammation
  • Nociceptive Sensitization
  • Vasomotor Dysfunction
  • Maladaptive Neuroplasticity

Character of the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Pain

  • Burning sensations.
  • Stabbing pain.
  • Grinding pain.
  • Severe tingling and electrical sensations.
  • Hypersensitive skin- Moving or touching the limb is often intolerable (allodynia and hyperalgesia).
  • Wide spread pain following touch or painful stimuli (hyperpathia).
  • Muscle spasm- Patient may also experience muscle spasms.

Edema in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Edema causes soft tissue swelling by retention of fluid in inflammatory and surrounding tissue.

Sweating Symptoms Associated with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • There is an abnormal increase in sweating over the inflamed tissue.

Symptoms of Skin Temperature in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Initial Phase- Skin temperature is hot or warm.
  • Later Phase- Ischemic and vasoconstriction phase reduces skin temperature.

Symptoms of Skin Color Change in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Initial Phase- Skin is bright red because of increased capillary circulation resulting from soft tissue inflammation.
  • Later Phase- Skin turns blue or purple. Blood vessels are constricted resulting in tissue hypoxia (less oxygen supply) and Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of soft tissue).

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Patients Complain of Joint Stiffness, Tenderness and Joint Swelling Associated with Intense Chronic Joint Pain.

Symptoms of Syncope in CRPS or RSD Patients

Symptoms of pre syncope and syncope are infrequently reported among patients suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Pain.

Symptoms of Emotional or Physical Stress Associated With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobia

Signs of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)

Skin Signs in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Allodynia
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Changes in Skin Color- Often blotchy, purple, pale, or red.
  • Changes in Skin Texture- Shiny and thin, and sometimes excessively sweaty.

Signs of Joint Pain in Patients Suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is Associated With:

  • Stiffness- Atrophy of the tendon surrounding joint can make the joint stiff.
  • Restricted Mobility- Increased intensity of chronic pain with joint movement encourages patient to immobilize the painful joint. Continuous restricted joint activities causes muscle and tendon atrophy which results in restricted and stiff joint.

Signs of Muscle Abnormalities in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Spasm- Muscle spasm is observed in muscles surrounding the joint. Muscle spasm is secondary to continuous muscle contraction, which may lead to muscle fatigue and pain.
  • Muscle Atrophy- Causes joint stiffness and painful muscle contractions.
  • Motor Disparity- Ischemic and atrophic muscle causes inappropriate contraction resulting in motor disparity and fall.

Signs of Hair Growth Abnormalities in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy:

  • Initial Phase- Hair over skin shows extra growth.
  • Later Phase- Skin hair growth is diminished and hair loss becomes predominant.

Signs of Nail Abnormalities in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Initial Phase-Nail grows quicker and some time out of proportion.
  • Later Phase - Nail becomes brittle, cracked, grooved or spotty.

Signs of Peripheral Vasospasm Secondary to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Ischemic Changes- Ischemic changes following vasospasm causes skin discoloration and increased pain.

Signs of Hyperhidrosis Associated With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Increased sweating is seen during initial phase.

Signs of Peripheral Edema or Swelling in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Initial Phase- Swelling is secondary to inflammatory edema.
  • Later Phase- Swelling is secondary to soft tissue hypertrophy resulting from continuous inflammation and persistent edema.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 10, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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