What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Causes of CRPS

As mentioned above, CRPS may develop following an injury or surgery, possibly because of a reaction in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

The SNS is part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS regulates heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, and perspiration. The SNS mobilizes the body’s resources under stress, to trigger the “flight-or-fight” response.

When danger arises, the SNS starts to accelerate the heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Levels of certain hormones, such as adrenaline, will rise. This prepares the body for a sudden, short-term release of energy, so that the individual can either fight better or run away faster.

One theory is that trauma, such as a physical injury, causes the SNS to release the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormones known as catecholamines.

In some people, an unknown underlying problem may cause catecholamines to activate pain receptors, the nerve endings that send pain signals to the brain.

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