Diagnosing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Primary Care Primer

Steven A. King, MD, MS

Although complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)—a severely painful condition typically in the distal region of a limb—was first identified during the Civil War, it remains one of the most unrecognized types of pain, despite often being among the most severe. There are 2 types of CRPS: CRPS-I, which refers to CRPS in the absence of nerve damage, and CRPS-2 with related nerve damage. While CRPS-1 is considered to be the more prevalent of the two, the clinical presentations and treatments are essentially the same.

There is a large number of potential signs and symptoms of CRPS, and many are not uncommon in several other pain conditions, making it challenging for clinicians to diagnose. What do primary care physicians need to know about diagnosing this complex condition? In the slides below, find a primer on diagnosing CRPS including symptoms, testing, criteria, and more.