Diagnosing CRPS is different from many other health conditions. For some diseases, like diabetes, there's a straightforward test (e.g., a blood test) that gives a clear answer about whether someone has the condition. However, CRPS doesn't have such a definitive test.
Instead, doctors diagnose CRPS based on your symptoms and signs.
Symptoms: These are things you feel.
Signs: These are things a doctor can observe.
1. CRPS type I - CRPS symptoms without a clear nerve injury
2. CRPS type II - CRPS symptoms with a clear nerve injury
3. CRPS-NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) - A person who has some of the symptoms of CRPS. Even though they don’t fulfill all the criteria for CRPS, there is no other diagnosis that better explains the symptoms.
4. CRPS with Remission of Some Features - A person was formerly diagnosed with CRPs but now some of their symptoms have resolved.
Tip: In terms of treatment, there is very little practical difference between these categories - they are all treated similarly.
In 2019, top pain experts gathered in Spain to clarify the CRPS diagnosis process. This most updated diagnosis process (as of 2023) is called the “The Budapest Criteria” or the “IASP criteria” (these both mean the same thing).
Tip: Make sure to ask your doctor if they are using this process to diagnosis your CRPS
The following 4 rules (A-D) are generally required to diagnose CRPS. (However, as described above, a diagnosis of “CRPS-NOS” may be given to people who only have some of these)
A) Duration of pain - The pain has been in a limb and has lasted or keeps coming back for over 3 months.
B) Symptoms - Notice on your own that you have at least 3 categories of symptoms
C) Signs - Doctor observes that you have at least 2 categories of symptoms
D) No better diagnosis - Doctor rules out other conditions that may better explain the symptoms
Category 1:⚡ Pain in response to light touch or temperature or deep pressure or movement or pinprick
Category 2:🎨 🌡️ Skin color or temperature is abnormal in the affected body region
Category 3:💧 Abnormal sweating or swelling in the affected body region
Category 4:💅🏾 Weakness, tremors, or stiffness. Or changes in hair or nail growth. Or changes in skin texture (like shiny skin).
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