What causes complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?
CRPS is rare but can follow any injury. CRPS Type I (RSD) follows an injury to the skin, muscle, ligaments, joints or bone at any site. The injury can be as a result of an accident or surgery. Most commonly it occurs after a bone is broken and immobilized with a splint or a sling, but can occur even after a minor sprain. CRPS Type II (Causalgia) follows partial damage to a nerve in the arm or leg, such as from a gunshot wound or crush injury. The cause of the prolonged pain and other symptoms is unknown. Changes in the way nerves send messages to the brain about pain may occur at the injury site. These changes may then lead to more changes in the nerves of the spinal cord and brain. All these changes are thought to play a role in causing and prolonging the condition. CRPS may be prevented by ensuring that plaster casts and bandages are not too tight and that limbs are used as early as possible after injury.
CRPS can also start after other problems such as a head injury, stroke or prolonged bed rest.