April 20, 2015

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Foot and Ankle | Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Non-operative Care


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is an uncommon form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or leg. CRPS/RSD typically develops after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack, but the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury, if any.

Causes of CRPS

“The cause of CRPS isn’t clearly understood. Treatment for complex regional pain syndrome is most effective when detected and started early. In such cases, improvement and even remission are possible,” said Dr. Kevin Sigua, OrthoIndy non-operative pain management physician.

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Symptoms may include:

  • continuous burning
  • throbbing pain usually in your arm, leg, hand or foot
  • sensitivity to touch or cold swelling of the painful area

Other symptoms may include:

  • changes in the skin, including the skin’s temperature, color and texture
  • Changes in hair and nail growth
  • joint stiffness
  • muscle spasms
  • decreased ability to move the affected body part

Symptoms may change from person to person but not treated early these may become irreversible.


Diagnosis of CRPS/RSD is based on physical exam and history.  In addition tests like, MRI’s, bone scans, X-rays may help in diagnosis however there is no one single test that can give a definitive diagnosis.

Early detection is key to potentially successful treatment however treatment may include the use of oral medications like anti-inflammatories (Advil, Aleve), antidepressants (Cymbalta) and antivconvulsants (Gabapentin, Lyrica) and pain medications.  Sympathetic Nerve or Cervical Stellate Ganglion injections with local anesthetic can help diagnose and treat the disease.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sigua please call 317.802.2872 or learn more about non-surgical orthopedic care at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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