Understanding the Spread of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

How CRPS Can Affect Additional Limbs and Organs

Chronic pain introduces omnipresent hardships for those who suffer from it. Just as one learns to cope with their condition and symptoms, they may find the injury spontaneously spread to another part of their body.

Such a phenomenon is common in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) patients. CRPS can spread beyond the limb that was initially affected. 

Can CRPS Spread?

The simple answer is yes, CRPS can spread and affect other parts of the body. It could reach other limbs or even other internal organs. Though not an occurrence in every case, spreading is still a common possibility that people with CRPS should be aware of.

It's rather common for patients experiencing CRPS to experience symptoms in other limbs than those that were initially affected. This phenomenon is not universal, though many patients have reported this phenomenon. Some studies have shown that some patients have experienced the spreading of CRPS symptoms around 19 months after onset symptoms were discovered.

Ways CRPS Can Spread

There is no uniform way that CRPS spreads throughout the body. Patients could experience a spread that is either:

  • Contiguous: The original site of the CRPS grows.
  • Independent: CRPS symptoms appear in a part of the body other than the original site.

When independent spreads occur, the movement could be:

  • Contralateral, where the CRPS spreads in a manner similar to a mirror image. If the original site was the right leg, it could move contralaterally to the left leg.
  • Diagonal, where the CRPS moves across the body. For example, if the CRPS originated in the right leg, it could move diagonally to the left arm.
  • Ipsilateral, where the movement happens on the same half of the body. CRPS could travel ipsilaterally from the right leg to the right arm.

There is no cure for CRPS, nor is there any way to ensure it will not spread. Still, there are precautions a patient can take to minimize risks in situations where they are likely to be introduced to new stimuli, such as in a medical procedure.


You can request that any IV be done with the smallest needle possible and by the most experienced medical professional available to lessen the introduction of new and painful stimuli that could disrupt the nervous system. Additionally, the fluids administered through your IV could be warmed before being injected.

Why Does CRPS Spread?

Unfortunately, the cause for CRPS or the reason for why it spreads is not yet completely understood. It may be caused by an injury to the peripheral and central nervous systems since it typically happens as a result of an injury, however, not all who develop CRPS have injuries.

Have a CRPS Lawsuit? Call (718) 866-3664.

If you are a Queens resident or had surgery in the area, the Law Office of David A. Kates can help you find out if you have a CRPS lawsuit. Contact us today for personalized assistance: (718) 866-3664">(718) 866-3664.