Complex regional pain syndrome - Diagnosis 

Diagnosing complex regional pain syndrome 

There is no single test for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). It is usually diagnosed by ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms.

As a result, it can take a long time for a confident diagnosis of CRPS to be made. It's estimated that the average length of time between the start of symptoms and a diagnosis is up to two years.


Some of the tests you may have to rule out other conditions can include:

A physical examination may also be carried out by your GP or another specialist to check for physical signs of CRPS, such as swelling and changes to your skin’s temperature and appearance.

A diagnosis of CRPS can usually be made if you have clear symptoms of the condition and no other possible cause can be found.


If you are diagnosed with CRPS, you will usually be referred to a local specialist pain clinic. These are mostly located within hospitals.

Referrals are ideally made as soon as possible to ensure treatment can be started quickly, because treatment can often improve functionality of the limb and may improve pain levels.

Page last reviewed: 09/05/2014

Next review due: 09/05/2016


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

slebby3 said on 03 November 2013

I have been bedridden since april with crps,having to wait until end if this`month to see a specialist,I think the length if time I gave been left in agony is unforgivable,and I had to pay for a private gp to come out to diagnose me!!! My gp has`just left me to suffer.If an animal could not walk,it would be put out of its misery,I have this and 10 yrs`of severe domestic violence to contend with,escaped with police help last yr ans still no counselling!! Again unacceptable.Yours,ms`dudley.

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K Mac said on 08 July 2013

For over 8 years I painfully made my way to various GPs and I suspect they thought it was all in my mind. The original acute phase was"probably a sprain" of the ankle and I had an MRI of the right knee as it too was swollen and that came back as "house maid's knee". At no point was CRPS mentioned. Some years ago a diabetes clinician said "Oh that sounds like Fibromyalgia" . And that was it until I was diagnosed CRPS type 1 through a physical exam by a rheumy plus X ray and MRI.

Granted, CRPS is a difficult and rare disease to diagnose but in my experience it has been a mountain to climb to convince the medical profession that there was something catastrophic going on in my body. That mountain climbing has left me chronically exhausted.

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poco said on 21 January 2013

"If you are diagnosed with CRPS, you may be urgently referred to a specialist pain clinic"

But more realistically you will not be believed that anything is wrong with you, you will be stereotyped as a lazy person who is just trying to scam the system. You will be given the chepest possible medications if any at all. You will go years being ridiculed and losing all diginity for yourself. And the after finally being granted DLA, you may be lucky enough to get sent to some who can actually diagnoses you. Great you may think, but then you will realise that what you went threw is not special, and the majority of us suffering this have to go down this path. You will also then realise how ruined your life is, because you will find out that CRPS is incurable and largely untreatable. But the NHS will keep putting it on you as the fault, for only if you tried a little bit harder, the pain would go away.

This disease is one of the worst that there is, but how the NHS treats those with this disease is far worse. Bed bound for three days, and my doctor tells me he will not come out because I am not terminal.

If I had the strength to complain I would, but they know I do not.

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How to get NHS help for long-term pain

Find out how to get help from your GP or local hospital if you have persistent pain