Children's Hospital Colorado

CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)

What is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Complex regional pain syndrome, called CRPS for short, is a chronic pain condition characterized by debilitating, ongoing pain that often occurs in an arm or a leg. In rare cases, it can be present in other areas of the body.

In a person with CRPS, the skin on the affected area becomes extremely sensitive to touch and may change color and/or temperature. Symptoms also include swelling and stiffness, and it can become very difficult to move the limb.

What causes CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome is caused by over-activation of the sensory nervous system. This abnormal firing of the nerves occurs not only in the affected limb, but also along the nerve pathways up the spine and into the brain. Sometimes CRPS occurs after an injury or surgery, but other times it is not clear what triggers this response.

Who gets CRPS?

CRPS tends to occur more often in girls than in boys and in Caucasian children. Genetic predisposition may be one of many factors that contribute to the development of CRPS.

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Lauren Haisley, PhD

Lauren Haisley, PhD


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