Complex regional pain syndrome: a narrative review for the practising clinician

Br J Anaesth. 2019 Aug;123(2):e424-e433. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2019.03.030. Epub 2019 May 2.


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a life-altering condition that usually affects the extremities after a trauma or nerve injury. The physiologic changes that occur as a result of the inciting injury are complex, as the name of the syndrome implies. The pain and disability associated with CRPS often lead to psychological co-morbidities that create a vicious cycle of pain, isolation, and depression. We review recent developments in the understanding of CRPS and advancements in management of this syndrome. Further research in targeting specific mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of CRPS should lead to prevention of this condition.

Keywords: CRPS; causalgia; chronic pain; reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Humans