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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Prognosis for complex regional pain syndrome?

    Will the pain last forever? Will it ever permenently go away with treatment?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • I am a specialist sports physiotherapist with a sub-speciality in adolescents in sport (as awarded bu the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2007). In addition … View Profile

    The prognosis for complex regional pain syndrome is actually very good in children and adolescents.  The presentation of CRPS in children in adolescents in quite different from that of adults.  In children and adolescents CRPS usually presents in the lower limb (commonly after an ankle sprain) and effects females much more, whereas in adults, there are higher rates in th upper lumb and whilst it is more common in females, the gender difference is not as great as in children and teenagers.  In children and teenagers the management and treatment are focussed around early weight bearing and functional movement, as well as education, -  with this treatment CRPS can be prevented or treated very effectively in a relatively short period of time and from experience there is usually no residual issues at all.  It would appear that CPRS in children and adolescents is in part due to a relative lack of understanding of and experience with injury and recovery from injury.

    The adult presentation of CRPS is quite difference and is out of my area of expertise so hopefully some else will be able to answer this question in relation to adults

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    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical … View Profile

    The prognosis of CRPS in adults is generally quite favourable. A US study published in 2003 found that 74% of patients underwent resolution, often spontaneously.

    Your doctor will be better placed to advise you on your individual prognosis. If you have had CRPS for a few weeks it is more likely that you will have a complete resolution of your symptoms than if you have had CRPS for over a year. If you have not yet received effective treatments then there is a good likelihood that you will be able to get relief with treatment. If, on the other hand, you have had a prolonged period of treatment through a specialised multidisciplinary treatment centre then I would be more guarded about the likelihood of complete resolution of your pain.

    The pain that you experience with CRPS can be awful and life-changing. It is important to try every day to regain use of the affected limb, despite the pain. Realise that there are effective therapies for CRPS and, most importantly, that you are not alone in dealing with this condition. Ask your doctor if you are suitable for referral to a pain medicine specialist.

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