Burning Nights orange side version





According to specialists and doctors who deal with patients with CRPS, the actual cause or how you can ‘get’ Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is not very well understood or not actually really known. However research does say that CRPS most likely does not have a single cause but multiple causes. (Web MD)


CRPS is a chronic neuropathic pain condition that may affect different systems within the body including the sympathetic nervous system. This is why no one person diagnosed with CRPS will have the exact same symptoms as someone else. .


The NINDS website on CRPS (2015) gives a description of how you can get CRPS or what causes CRPS as:


“CRPS represents an abnormal response that magnifies the effects of the injury. In this respect it is like an allergy. Some people respond excessively to a trigger that causes no problem for other people.” 


The syndrome usually will affect 1 or more regions of the body for example arms, hands and legs; however there are people who have CRPS in the whole of their body or in their internal organs or facial area. The 2 main types of CRPS being CRPS Type I (this is the new name for what used to be known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome) this happens where there is no certain damage to a nerve. CRPS Type II (which used to be called Causalgia) happens when there is a direct injury to a nerve. However when it is developed, the pain that is felt is totally out of proportion to the actual injury such as following a fracture or broken bone. There are occasions where the syndrome has onset but there has been no actual cause or reason for it. There is a 3rd type which is CRPS-NOS or CRPS Not Otherwise Specified (RCP Guidelines for CRPS)


In a research study by Lee, W.H. (2015) he stated that there were a number of possible causes of complex regional pain syndrome including:

“…. tissue damage, nerve damage, casting, traumas, fractures, burns, frostbites, strokes, and other non-identifiable causes”


It has been noted among health professionals that Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) may develop after any of the following incidents:

  • Minor injury
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Laceration
  • Deep wound
  • Spinal-cord injury
  • Surgery
  • Fracture / broken bone
  • Castings
  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Neck problems
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Pressure on a nerve
  • Burns
  • Frostbite


The list above is by no means definitive and there are cases where the sufferer doesn’t even know how or when an incident occurred for the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome to set in. According to the Mayo Clinic website (2014) they say that a possible cause for CRPS:


“.. may be due to a dysfunctional interaction between your central and peripheral nervous systems and inappropriate inflammatory responses.”  




In a study from 2014 by Moseley, G.L. et al. it was mooted that if someone who had fractured their wrist had a pain intensity of 5/10 or more on average for 2 days then this should be a red flag for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).



Researchers have found in their studies of the causes of CRPS that they believe that CRPS begins because of an abnormal response to an injury that has resulted in 4 main systems in the body to malfunction. These 4 main systems include:


  • PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM – The nerves that are around the outside of the central nervous system
  • CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM – Brain and spinal cord
  • BLOOD VESSELS – Arteries and veins that send the blood around the body
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM – This is the body’s natural defence against infection and illness

(NHS Choices website ‘Complex Regional Pain Syndrome’)


Goebel, A. (2011) explains in his research study that:


“The condition’s distinct combination of abnormalities includes limb-confined inflammation and tissue hypoxia, sympathetic dysregulation, small fibre damage, serum autoantibodies, central sensitization and cortical reorganization.”


Another theory that the Web MD article (2015) suggests is that:


“… pain receptors in the affected part of the body become responsive to catecholamines, a group of nervous system messengers.” 


There is simply NOT enough research into the CRPS as a whole. To help improve the amount of research that is done for CRPS and all parts of CRPS like how you get CRPS, treatments, symptoms etc.. contact your regional MP or Senator for those outside the UK. Or contact the various MPs concerned with health and disability and tell them about yourself and talk about the lack of research available for CRPS. For those in the UK here are the links to the MPs and to those concerned with health:

Your regional MP

Minister of State (Department of Health) who currently is Rt Hon ALISTAIR BURT MP 

Health Minister currently  Rt.Hon.JEREMY HUNT MP




  • Goebel, A. (2011) ‘Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in adults,’Rheumatology. 2011. Vol 50 (10). pp 1739-1750. Available from: <http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/10/1739.short> doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker202 1st published online June 28, 2011
  • Mayo Clinic (2014) ‘Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Causes,Mayo Clinic website. 2014, April 12. Available from: < http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complex-regional-pain-syndrome/basics/causes/con-20022844>


Understanding how you can get CRPS or what are the main known causes of CRPS is an integral part of learning about your condition; Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).


Last Updated: 22/03/2017

LET’S SPREAD AWARENESS of CRPS! Burning Nights orange side version

Don't keep our fab info to yourself! Share....Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditPrint this pageEmail this to someone