Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a neurological disorder causing pain in combination with sensory, vasomotor, sudomotor, motor and trophic abnormalities. It can be a difficult diagnosis to make and may or may not be associated with a precipitating event or cause, such as a twisted ankle, broken arm or traumatised nerve. Many doctors are unfamiliar with the condition and it is often misdiagnosed.

A recent review of 10 studies found that the average age of onset for paediatric CRPS patients is 12.5 years, and most children (71 %) had a history of trauma. In three-quarters of cases, the lower limbs were affected. The syndrome is more common in females (85 %) than males, and 30 percent of children also have movement disorders and dystonia.1

CRPS can be a scary diagnosis for both a child and their parents/caregivers to receive.  It may have taken a long time to get the diagnosis in the first place and the information you may have read online can be really frightening.  However, it is important to remember that the outcomes for paediatric patients are much more positive than they are for adults with CRPS.

Most children and teens with CRPS recover over time and achieve remission through an intensive program of physical therapy and emotional counselling supported with medication(s) if appropriate. There are many paediatric multi-disciplinary pain management centres throughout Australia that are able to provide in-patient and out-patient programs to support children learn how to push through the pain and learn coping skills. It can also help them identify and deal with any stressors in their life and how to deal with them constructively.

It is important that your child’s school understands the seriousness of CRPS and how to support them.





1 Abu-Arafeh, H. et al., Complex regional pain syndrome in children: a systematic review of clinical features and movement disorders. Pain management .2017 7. 10.2217/pmt-2016-0036.