Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Follow-up

Updated: Jun 20, 2018
  • Author: Gaurav Gupta, MD, FAANS, FACS; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
  • Print

Further Outpatient Care

Patients with CRPS type I should receive care at a pain clinic in which appropriate evaluation and treatment can minimize their discomfort and degree of disability.


Further Inpatient Care

With CRPS type I, inpatient care is typically reserved for patients with refractory pain or infections of the atrophic limb, patients requiring surgery, and sometimes patients requiring other procedures.



Patients should be referred to a pain clinic as soon as CRPS type I is suspected on clinical grounds.



The early treatment of pain appears to decrease the frequency of chronic disease and later complications.



Complications can include the following:

  • Osteoporosis

  • Limitation of active joint movement

  • Infections

  • Nodular fasciitis of the palmar or plantar skin



Approximately 80% of patients with CRPS type I achieve complete, spontaneous relief of signs and symptoms within 18 months; however, no diagnostic criteria have been shown to predict which patients will fall into this category. Some of the patients whose symptoms do not resolve spontaneously may still be cured by treatment.

Of the patients who develop refractory CRPS type I, 50-80% have disability secondary to pain and/or a limited range of motion. The main disabilities are limitations in their activities of daily living (ADL).

Prolonged symptoms and signs, trophic changes, and primarily cold CRPS type I are all associated with a higher chance of poor outcomes and disability.


Patient Education

Patients should be informed that, even while wearing a cast, their treatment will include mild, passive range-of-motion exercises. After the cast is removed, physical and occupational therapy should be started immediately, and some ADLs should be resumed as soon as possible in accordance with the recommendations of the physical and occupational therapists.


Online Patient Education Resources

There are a number of online resources that patients may find to be helpful. Four sites are listed below. Patients should be mindful of the fact that not all online information is reliable. Disparities can be found between information on different sites or even between information on different parts of the same site. These online resources should be view as a starting point for discussion between the patient and her or his healthcare provider.

American Chronic Pain Association

American RSDHope

International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA)


Many patients inquire about clinical trials of new treatment methods.

The website  is a good source of information about clinical trials on CRPS (and most other disease). The specific link within this site to CRPS is

One can also use the site’s own search function.