How is neuropathy differentiated from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Updated: Jun 20, 2018
  • Author: Gaurav Gupta, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Answer

The risk of overdiagnosing CRPS must be taken into account. A detailed history and physical examination, as well as the aforementioned specifications, including testing, are necessary to differentiate CRPS from other neuropathic and pain syndromes.

Neuropathy (eg, diabetic polyneuropathy) may also present with spontaneous pain, skin color changes, and motor deficit that are distinguished from CRPS by the patient’s history and their symmetrical distribution. Furthermore, all kinds of inflammatory, rheumatological, and infectious conditions might induce intense unilateral skin warming. Unilateral arterial or venous occlusive diseases can cause unilateral pain and vascular abnormalities, and therefore must be excluded when diagnosing CRPS. The repetitive artificial occlusion of blood supply to one limb can be seen in psychiatric, factitious disorders when individuals induce secondary structural changes in the blood vessels and cause abnormalities in perfusion that mimic the symptoms and signs of CRPS.


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