Complex regional pain syndrome: An updated comprehensive review

NeuroRehabilitation. 2020;47(3):253-264. doi: 10.3233/NRE-208001.


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a complex disorder that can have a significant impact on the quality of life of a person with this syndrome. The diagnosis and treatment of CRPS are often difficult as there is no one confirmatory test and no one definitive treatment. Currently, the most widely accepted clinical diagnostic criteria are the Budapest criteria, which were developed by expert consensus. Though no one single treatment has been found to be universally effective, early detection and an interdisciplinary approach to treatment appear to be key in treating CRPS. This review aims to present up-to-date clinical information regarding the diagnosis and management of CRPS and highlight the potential issues with diagnosis in the neurological population. Ultimately, more research is needed to identify the exact etiology of CRPS in order to help target appropriate therapies. In addition, more randomized controlled trials need to be performed in order to test new therapies or combinations of therapies, including pharmacological, interventional, and behavioral therapies, to determine the best treatment options for this potentially debilitating disorder.

Keywords: CRPS; Complex regional pain syndrome; RSD; pain; reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / diagnosis
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Hyperalgesia / therapy
  • Nerve Block / methods
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Quality of Life*
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods


  • Steroids