Current Understandings on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


Marissa de Mos, MD, MSc, Department of Medical Informatics, Erasmus Medical Center, Room 2157, Dr. Molewaterplein 50, 3015 GE, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail:


The mechanisms underlying complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) have been increasingly studied over the past decade. Classically, this painful and disabling disorder was considered to emerge from pathology of the central nervous system. However, the involvement of additional peripheral disease mechanisms is likely, and recently these mechanisms have also attracted scientific attention. The present article provides an overview of the current understandings regarding pathology of the autonomic and somatic nervous system in CRPS, as well as the roles of neurogenic inflammation, hypoxia, and the contribution of psychological factors. Potential connections between the separate disease mechanisms will be discussed. Additionally, currently known risk factors for CRPS will be addressed. Insight into risk factors is of relevance as it facilitates early diagnosis and tailored treatment. Moreover, it may provide clues for further unraveling of the pathogenesis and etiology of CRPS.