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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Pediatric)

Facts to Know:

  • Pediatric Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that is localized to one area of the body.
  • The affected area of the body may exhibit changes in temperature (hot or cold), increased or decreased sweating, or swelling.
  • Increased pain with very light, gentle touch is also a frequent finding.
  • Pediatric CRPS is most common in older children and adolescents, although it can occur in younger children.  

What causes Pediatric CRPS?

The cause of CRPS is not well understood. Some patients may have a preceding injury or illness. The injury that precedes onset of CRPS may be mild, for example, stubbing a toe. Some families may have multiple members affected by CRPS. No genetic risk factor for CRPS has been identified.

Pediatric CRPS Diagnosis

Currently, there is no available test for CRPS. A diagnosis of CRPS is best made by a doctor with experience in recognizing CRPS. Diagnosis is based on recognition of characteristic symptoms and exam findings.

Pediatric CRPS Treatment

Treatment for CRPS in children typically includes the following:

  • Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy with a home exercise and pain desensitization regimen.
  • Psychology evaluation, to address coping techniques and patient/family education on behavioral pain management.
  • Medications are not usually recommended for treatment of pediatric CRPS.

The goals of CRPS treatment are to improve the patient’s ability to function physically and to decrease the severity of his or her pain. Functional improvement usually occurs first and is then followed by reduction of pain. For patients who do not experience improvement with outpatient treatment, inpatient or day-treatment programs often help.

CRPS Prognosis

The prognosis for children and teenagers with CRPS is good, and most patients treated with physical therapy and counseling respond well to treatment.