Complex regional pain syndrome

CRPS, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, RSD, R.S.D.

What is complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition which involves persistent and severe pain and inflammation in a limb which results in a lack of energy and strength.

What causes CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome occurs due to the malfunctioning of nerve fibres that are responsible for carrying pain messages to the brain after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack.

What are the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome?

The main symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome include:

  • Pain that may feel like burning, stabbing or stinging
  • Feelings of discomfort such as tingling and numbness
  • Flare-ups that may last days or weeks in which the pain gets worse than usual.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Strange sensations in the affected limb
  • Hair and nail changes in the affected limb
  • Oedema which is joint stiffness and swelling in the affected limb
  • Difficulty moving the affected limb
  • Osteoporosis which involves small patches of fragile bones in the affected limb
  • Alternating changes to the skin
  • Dystonia which involves tremors and muscle spasms
  • Insomnia which is difficulty sleeping.

Are you affected by complex regional pain syndrome?

If you’re affected by CRPS, The Brain Charity can support you.

We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every one of the more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence. Individually, many are rare, but combined, they affect 1 in 6 people.

We provide practical help on all aspects of living with complex regional pain syndrome, emotional support such as counselling, phone befriending and group therapy  and social activities to people with complex regional pain syndrome from all over the UK from our centre in Liverpool.

Looking to talk to someone?

Woman smiling, making eye contact and holding the hand of another woman to comfort her

Phone us

Contact The Brain Charity now

Our friendly Information & Advice Officers are here to help. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 10 working days.

0151 298 2999

Looking to talk to someone?

  • Please tell us which neurological condition you are affected by and what you need support with.

Caring for someone with complex regional pain syndrome

We support carers, friends and family too

Are you a carer for or relative of someone with CRPS? It’s just as important for you to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing too.

The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including complex regional pain syndrome, from anywhere in the UK.

We also run an additional carers advocacy service for all carers in Liverpool, regardless of which type of condition the person they care for has.

You don’t need to be a formal or registered carer

We can help you even if you don’t view yourself as a formal carer or claim Carer’s Allowance. Find out some of the ways we support carers below.

Other resources

The Brain Charity's library

The Brain Charity’s library has a range of resources on complex regional pain syndrome and on many other disability-related issues.

Visit our library to read:

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome by Pain Relief Foundation.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome by NHS Choices.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Patient Information Booklet: Working together to stop the pain by RSD UK.

Or search the catalogue online here.

Support groups

Chronic Physical Pain & Mental Health Support for all in the UK

Facebook group that provides an opportunity for those living with any type of chronic pain to share their experiences.


Northamptonshire Chronic Pain Support (NCPS)

Facebook group in which those who live with chronic pain can communicate with each other, share information, provide support and build friendships.


Phone: 0753 449 4830


The Brain Charity

Are you interested in setting up a complex regional pain support group, or do you already run one? Email to let us know.

Other charities


aims to support those with complex regional pain, to educate people about it in order to raise awareness and to assist research into the condition.



Pain UK

An alliance of charities that provide support for those living with pain.



The Pain Relief Foundation

Funds research into the causes and treatments of chronic pain.


Phone: 0151 529 5821

Burning Nights CRPS

Burning Nights CRPS Support is a national charity working to improve the quality of life for people whose lives have been touched by CRPS, through awareness, education and support as part of an ever-growing community.


Phone: 0166 379 5055