Sympathetic pain refers to a broad category of pain syndromes involving the sympathetic nervous system. These conditions can actually be either sympathetic dependent or sympathetic independent, and this describes how they respond to specific treatment interventions. Other names for this condition are Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS, Causalgia, and Sudeck’s Atrophy, which is an older name for this condition. Today the proper terminology is to call these conditions Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I and Type II. CRPS Type I refers to a situation when there is no documentable nerve injury and is synonymous with RSD. CRPS Type II, AKA causalgia, is associated with the presence of a nerve injury. Treatments for these conditions are similar, except when a triggering, peripheral nerve injury can be identified. In these cases it may be possible to turn off the CRPS by directing care at the specific peripheral nerve injury.
CRPS, Type I
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I is synonymous with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. This nomenclature was changed in the mid-90’s. CRPS Type I describes the situation when CRPS or RSD occurs in the absence of a documentable nerve injury.
CRPS, Type II
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II is synonymous with Causalgia and represents a sympathetic pain syndrome associated with a peripheral nerve injury. This nomenclature was changed in the mid-90’s (see sympathetic pain).