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What is Causalgia?

Woman holding hand. Hand appears to be in pain with red glow and bones on top of hand

What is Causalgia?

Causalgia, or CPRS II is a neurological disorder that can produce intense and long-lasting pain. It’s a rare pain syndrome related to partial peripheral nerve injuries.

What Causes Causalgia?

Causalgia arises after an injury or trauma to a peripheral nerve. Peripheral nerves run from your spine and brain to your extremities. The most common site of CRPS II is in the brachial plexus. This is the network of nerves that run from your neck to your arms and hands. CRPS II is rare, affecting fewer than 1 person out of 10,000.

Typically, the type of injuries that lead to causalgia include complex bone fractures, sprains, burns, crushing injuries, or amputations. There are also instances where the causalgia was the result of surgery. It’s unclear why some people respond so dramatically to these injuries while others don’t. It’s possible that patients with CRPS II have abnormalities in the linings of their nerve fibres, making them hypersensitive to pain signals. Such abnormalities can also initiate an inflammatory response and induce changes to blood vessels. These changes can cause swelling and skin discoloration at the site of the injury.

What are the Symptoms of Causalgia?

CRPS II pain is usually a burning pain prominent in the hand or foot within 24 hours of the injury. Unlike CRPS I (RSD), the pain is usually localised in the area of the injury. Common symptoms that patients experience include the following:

  • Burning, aching, extreme pain that lasts six months or longer and seems disproportionate to the injury that brought it on

  • Pins and needles sensations

  • Hypersensitivity around the area of injury, in which being touched or even wearing clothes can trigger the pain

  • Swelling or stiffness of the affected limb

  • Abnormal sweating around the injury site

  • Skin colour or temperature changes around the injury, such as skin that looks pale and feels cold, and then red and warm and then back again

How is Causalgia Diagnosed?

With CRPS II, it’s important to diagnose the condition and begin a course of treatment as soon as possible. In some cases, it can be months or even years before a proper diagnosis can be completed.

Diagnosis of CRPS II can be very difficult, as there’s no one test for the condition. In order to diagnose CRPS II, your doctor would have to perform a physical exam, review your medical history, and perform tests which could include X rays, MRI, or skin thermography. In many cases, the affected area can be so sensitive that even the physical exam can be excruciatingly painful. After ruling out other maladies such as neuropathy or fibromyalgia, your doctor will be able to diagnose CRPS II accurately.

How is Causalgia Treated?

Causalgia can be treated in a number of different ways:

  • Over the counter pain relievers such as paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen

  • Prescription drugs such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants that have pain relieving effects

  • Opioids and pumps that inject drugs directly into your spine to block pain signals from nerves

  • Corticosteroid injections to the affected are to help reduce inflammation

  • Nerve blocks that inject an anaesthetic that interferes with the activity of the sympathetic nerves that control pain in the extremities

  • Spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation. This procedure implants a small device under the skin. It delivers precise electrical pulses to interrupt pain signals before they reach the brain and replaces those signals with a tingling sensation

  • Physical therapy can help to sustain or improve range of motion in painful limbs

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation sends electrical impulses through fibres in your body to block pain signals

  • Heat therapy. Some patients report that they’ve felt relief by simply using a heating pad


When you experience prolonged pain that interferes with your life and isn’t relieved by over-the-counter medications you should see your doctor.

Causalgia or CRPS II is a debilitating condition that can have a serious effect on your life. While it’s best to treat causalgia promptly, diagnosis can be a long hard road to travel. The treatment for causalgia can be difficult and may need a variety of specialists to be effective. There is no cure for causalgia, but with proper treatment, you can improve your prospects of living a more normal life.

For more information on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, please visit our CRPS Pain Condition page.

Contact FT Chronic Pain Solicitors today

If you’ve been diagnosed with causalgia due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, or another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, missed work, or pain and suffering. A solicitor familiar with your condition can ensure that the compensation you receive is commensurate with the gravity of your medical condition.

At FT Chronic Pain Solicitors, we have the knowledge and experience to represent you. We can advise you as to the viability of your case, but we can also put you in contact with experts to assist with diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, or modifications to your living quarters to accommodate your condition.

FT Chronic Pain Solicitors is a law firm dedicated to representing those who suffer from chronic pain as a result of an accident that was the fault of someone else. Our two partners, Anne Felmingham and Paul Turner, have decades of experience in this area of the law, and have over the years, recovered millions of pounds in damages for their clients. We offer sound legal advice, but also work at facilitating information, treatment, and support for those we represent.

If you suffer from chronic pain caused by the negligence of others, we would be happy to offer a free initial consultation. We are a modern law firm which is not constrained by bricks and mortar, so we prefer electronic communication in relation to documents. Contact us today by email, or give us a call to see how we can help you with your personal injury claim.


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