Causes and Risk Factors for CRPS

CRPS, also sometimes called RSD, appears to involve a complex interaction among the sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous systems, and the immune system. It is thought that brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) control over these various processes is somehow changed as a result of an injury.

Causes and risk factors associated with the onset of CRPS include the following:

  • Cerebral lesions
  • Heart disease, heart attack
  • Infection
  • Paralysis on one side of the body (hemiplegia)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Repetitive motion disorder (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Surgery
  • Trauma (e.g., bone fracture, gunshot and shrapnel wounds)

In 10–20 percent of cases, no direct cause for RSD/CRPS can be found. Injury that precedes the onset of the condition may or may not be significant.

Publication Review By: Eric M. Schreier, D.O., F.A.A.P.M.R.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 02 Oct 2015