The Challenge of Diagnosing CRPS: A Patient's Perspective

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is among the medical conditions that are notoriously challenging to diagnose.

For patients navigating the maze of medical consultations, the journey can be frustrating, confusing, and invalidating.

But why is this process so challenging? Here are few reasons:

A) Doctors Not Fully Up to Date on CRPS

Many medical professionals are not up-to-date with the latest diagnostic process for CRPS.

B) No Single Clear Test for CRPS

Unlike conditions such as diabetes, where a blood test can confirm the diagnosis, CRPS lacks a singular, definitive test. This absence makes the diagnosis heavily reliant on clinical judgment, which can vary among practitioners.

In this era of advanced medical technology, we’re accustomed to the idea that medical conditions have a corresponding test which gives a clear diagnosis. This expectation can lead to frustration when faced with a condition like CRPS in which no such test exists.

C) Rule-Out Process

The diagnostic procedure for CRPS often involves ruling out a multitude of other potential conditions. This can lead to a long series of tests, some of which might be invasive, expensive, or require waiting.  This all adds more stress to the process.

D) Minimization of Non-Visible Symptoms Like Pain

There's a longstanding history in medicine of minimizing or even dismissing pain (since pain can’t be seen). Patients with CRPS, whose primary complaint is pain, might be invalidated by some medical professionals in their journey for answers.

E) CRPS Varies from Person to Person

CRPS presents differently in different patients. The variability in symptoms, their intensity, and duration can make it a moving target, even for seasoned medical professionals.

F) Enduring Pain While Seeking Answers

CRPS patients face a double challenge: they're dealing with intense physical pain while also navigating a complex diagnostic process. This dual struggle—experiencing the pain and trying to get it diagnosed—adds to the stress and frustration. Feeling unheard or misunderstood can amplify distress even further.


The journey to a CRPS diagnosis is long, challenging, and can be filled with uncertainty. However, understanding the obstacles can empower you to advocate for yourself.  It's important for medical professionals and the general public to be more informed and empathetic towards those battling with conditions like CRPS.


TrainPain's neuroplasticity training program was awarded the 2023 Innovation Grand Prize from the American Academy of Pain Medicine.