Why Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Requires A Multidisciplinary Approach

Why Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Requires A Multidisciplinary Approach

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is by its very nature ‘complex’. Patients who are suffering with this condition are often misunderstood (initially) because they are experiencing disproportionate pain levels to what may have been a rather simple injury, or they continue to experience pain, long after the injury has healed.

So it is common for patients to feel as if they are losing their mind or that there is something seriously wrong with them that has been overlooked.

There is also no one ‘magic’ bullet that can cure complex regional pain syndrome, which means that patients often have to try various treatments often with only limited success.

But there is a very hidden side to complex regional pain syndrome which makes it imperative to treat this condition using a multidisciplinary approach and sadly this ‘hidden’ side is made up of very many different components.

The Pain:

Although it may sound obvious, the pain is a real issue, particularly when patients are often not able to sleep, not able to work and may find that they simply cannot function because they are in such pain.

The pain also means that it is hard to have any kind of social life or do ‘fun’ things. How can you plan a holiday or even a trip to the theatre, when you do not know if you will have to cancel because your pain levels may be intolerable.


The lack of sleep combined with not working and not being able to do enjoyable activities leads to people cutting themselves off from other people. Sometimes those who mean well but understand little, try to reassure someone with CRPS that the injury has healed and that they should ‘try to get back to normal now’ as if somehow the person with CRPS is being weak or has chosen to live with pain.

Comments such as these as well as the other factors of isolation and living in pain can often trigger real worries for CRPS sufferers. They can think that they are perhaps imagining the pain or it is ‘all in the mind’.


Depression is obviously a real threat to anyone with CRPS because the person is in constant pain, they have only limited capacity to enjoy day-to-day life, it is difficult to do nice, enjoyable things and on top of that there may be worries and concerns about money and whether their employers can continue to accommodate long absences.

It is hardly surprising then that people with CRPS can start to experience real and often severe depression.

Side Effects From Medication:

As if the pain and the psychological, ‘hidden’ side of CRPS were not enough, many patients find that the medication they are given to ease the pain can cause side effects and have a physical effect on their bodies.

Multidisciplinary Approach: The Only Appropriate Approach

With complex and very high pain levels as well as severe psychological and emotional issues, the only way that CRPS can be effectively treated is by looking at the patient as a whole. The physical, psychological and emotional impact of this condition all need to be accurately and sensitively researched, diagnosed and treated. This is why the only appropriate approach to treating complex regional pain syndrome is through using a multidisciplinary team, with each professional working effectively in their area of expertise, to treat the condition and give patients back their lives!