You might suspect you have CRPS if you have suffered a trauma anywhere on a limb. CRPS most commonly occurs after foot or ankle surgery to repair a fracture or sprain, but it can develop from something as innocuous as a needle stick. Symptoms include severe and continuous pain in part or all of a limb. It has been described as "burning" or a combination of burning and electrical shocks. If CRPS happens after an injury, the pain of the injury may be unusually severe. For example an ankle sprain may trigger an unbearable burning sensation. The affected part can become hypersensitive. Touching, bumping, or exposing the limb to temperature changes may cause severe pain. Muscle atrophy, or wasting, can result, if the patient stops using the limb because of the pain.
There may also be:
• Changes in skin temperature, with the skin becoming sweaty at times, and cold and clammy at others
• Changes in skin color, causing blotches or streaks, ranging from very pale to pink, and perhaps even with a blue tinge
• Thin and shiny skin texture
• Unusually fast or slow nail and hair growth
• Painful, stiff and inflamed joints.
• Mobility may also be reduced, as patients find it hard to move the affected part.
CRPS must be diagnosed by a medical doctor, preferably someone with a specialty in pain management.