Reflex sympathetic dystrophy: changing concepts and taxonomy

Pain. 1995 Oct;63(1):127-133. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(95)00110-E.


We present a revised taxonomic system for disorders previously called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and causalgia. The system resulted from a special consensus conference that was convened on this topic and is based upon the patient's history, presenting symptoms, and findings at the time of diagnosis. The disorders are grouped under the umbrella term CRPS: complex regional pain syndrome. This overall term, CRPS, requires the presence of regional pain and sensory changes following a noxious event. Further, the pain is associated with findings such as abnormal skin color, temperature change, abnormal sudomotor activity, or edema. The combination of these findings exceeds their expected magnitude in response to known physical damage during and following the inciting event. Two types of CRPS have been recognized: type I, corresponds to RSD and occurs without a definable nerve lesion, and type II, formerly called causalgia refers to cases where a definable nerve lesion is present. The term sympathetically maintained pain (SMP) was also evaluated and considered to be a variable phenomenon associated with a variety of disorders, including CRPS types I and II. These revised categories have been included in the 2nd edition of the IASP Classification of Chronic Pain Syndromes.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causalgia / classification*
  • Causalgia / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / classification*
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / diagnosis