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HandLab Resource Archive

What Do You See? No. 21

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) [formerly called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD] is a poorly understood chronic pain disorder presenting with an array of challenging symptoms. Characterized by prolonged/excessive pain with changes in skin temperature and color and/or swelling, CRPS does not respond positively to traditional treatment approaches. This image is an example of severe CRPS of the hand resulting in extreme stiffness.

Be aware, however, that the diagnosis of CRPS may be used incorrectly to describe a heightened sympathetic nervous response to trauma. Such a heightened sympathetic response does respond logically to gentle customary treatment approaches.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more in-depth information about CRPS.





Journal Article - Dynamic Loading Posture of the Thumb: The Colditz Tear Test, Journal of Hand Therapy – 2013

Book Chapter - Spring-Wire Extension Splinting of the Proximal Interphalangeal Joint, Rehabilitation of the Hand – 1995

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Disclaimer: HandLab's What Do You See? is intended to be an informal sharing of practical clinical ideas; not formal evidence-based conclusions of fact.