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For Young People

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a painful, debilitating, chronic and poorly understood pain condition that can affect children and teenagers as well as adults. CRPS affects both males and females however it is far more common amongst adolescent girls.The pain, described as burning or sharp, typically appears after a traumatic event, such as a broken bone, sprain, sports injury, or bad fall. It usually occurs in 1 or more of the limbs, typically legs, arms, hands and feet. However it can spread to other areas of the body not initially affected.

Besides pain, other CRPS symptoms can include:

  • swelling and sensitivity in the affected area
  • changes in skin temperature and colour in the affected area
  • changes in hair and nail growth
  • joint stiffness and swelling
  • muscle spasms and weakness
  • trouble moving the affected body part


In children and teens, CRPS occurs more often in the lower limbs. The exact reason why CRPS occurs is not known, although several different mechanisms have been suggested including damage to, or malfunction of the central and peripheral nervous systems. There is no known cure. However there are a number of treatments available to help manage the condition. The actual incidence of CRPS is unknown in children and teenagers. Although a 2016 Scottish study estimated the incidence of CRPS is 1.2 per 100,000 children 5–15 years old.

CRPS is not life-threatening, but it can become chronic and even spread to other parts of the body. It can be highly disruptive and interfere with daily activity, leading to as many as 25% of school days missed. Early diagnosis and treatment are important, and your age offers a high probability of remission.

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