Can complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) recur?

Yes, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) recurs in about 10% to 30% of patients. Most recurrences are due to unknown reasons; the remainder are associated with a new injury or surgery.

Does stress increase the pain level of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)? If so, what are some suggestions for relieving stress?

Yes, stress plays a direct role in pain levels. Stress from any cause such as worry, pain and financial concerns may all affect the part of the brain that is responsible for the autonomic nervous system. This system does not work properly in patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Helpful stress-reducing methods include yoga, pilates, meditation, hypnosis and psychotherapy.

Can complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) spread from its original body site to a distant site?

Yes it can. For example, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can spread from a primary site, such as a hand, to a distant site, such as the leg or foot.

If treated early, spinal cord stimulation may prevent spread to another site. Spinal cord stimulation can be effective for CRPS affecting either the upper or lower extremity. In some cases, it can be used to treat CRPS affecting both upper and lower extremities at the same time. Spinal cord stimulation is reserved for patients whose condition has not responded to medications and/or other therapies.

Does complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) affect organ function?

Possibly. For example, there are several cases in the medical literature of patients with longstanding lower limb CRPS who have problems with the function of their bladder and bowel and also have abdominal pain. Even though it may start at one site like the foot, CRPS is a chronic condition that involves the entire nervous system. It often causes the autonomic nervous system (the nervous system that looks after internal organs) to react and not function properly like they should.

What is full body complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Full-body complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) may be the result of more than one disease. If CRPS starts in one limb, for example, and then spreads to involve another limb or even all four limbs, this will impact all of the trunk muscles. While this is not necessarily CRPS, the muscle pain may produce what people call “full body” CRPS. Treatment of this involves gradually sorting out muscle groups individually until all of the muscle pain is under control. This requires months of treatment and requires physical therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral medicine all working together.

What is the difference, if any, between fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) are considered different syndromes. They don’t have the same symptoms and there is no evidence they are caused by similar changes in body chemistry or function.

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