What Is CRPS?

With the NFL season fast approaching, many hopeful dreams of a successful season can be shattered with a pre-season injury like that of Brandon Carr of the Dallas Cowboys who broke a bone in his hand. I have talked about sports injuries in the past in this blog, so now I will discuss a different form of pain that is much more perplexing in nature.

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in medicine is when a patient experiences chronic pain that cannot be explained. One syndrome is particularly frustrating to both the patient, who can barely tolerate the chronic pain, and to the physician who wants so badly to understand the cause of pain so he or she can treat it. Such is the case for the tricky syndrome, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

Here at Cast a Foot Podiatry in Hempstead, we run into this frustrating dilemma more than non-surgeon physicians. This is because CRPS is often triggered by a traumatic break in the skin. This can be a bad injury, a common injury, or even surgery.

CRPS is not well understood and some wonder if it even truly exists. However, it the best explanation we have at the moment for why certain patients experience chronic, unrelenting pain after surgery or other forms of trauma. Whether it is real or not, the literature states that it accounts for between 10-12 percent of chronic pain patients. It is most common between ages 40 and 60, and it effects females more commonly than males.

The criteria for diagnosing CRPS was first published in Pain Medicine in 2007. It states the patient must have constant pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event (meaning it hurts way more than it should). The second part of the criteria states you much have at least one symptom in three of the following categories: sensory, vasomotor (skin temperature or color changes), sudomotor (swelling or sweating changes), or motor (weakness, tremor, etc.).

Follow up next week as I dive into treatment options for this baffling condition.


Dr. Nicole M. Castillo

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Hempstead Oficina


9:00am a 7:00pm


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