Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


Complex regional pain syndrome is a limb pain condition caused by a malfunctioning nervous system after a trauma or a surgery. It is most common in people ages 20 – 35 and affects women more often than men. There is no cure for complex regional pain syndrome.

Symptoms include continuous, intense pain or burning pain, swelling and stiffness in affected joints, motor disability – a decrease in the ability to move the affected body part, and changes in hair and nail growth patterns.

To date, there have been no large clinical studies about the efficacy of acupuncture in patients with complex regional pain syndrome. However, some case reports demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in patients with complex regional pain syndrome.

Two patients with complex regional pain syndrome after sustaining upper extremity injuries were treated with Chinese scalp acupuncture once or twice a week, for the total of one to four weeks. The result showed that acupuncture provided lasting pain reduction, normalization of sensation and functional improvement.

In another case report, ten patients with complex regional pain syndrome were treated with electro acupuncture. After two weeks of receiving acupuncture procedures, patients had improvements in pain, limb swelling, limb stiffness and normalization of motor and sensory functions of the limbs.

In addition, stimulation of traditional acupuncture points has been shown by several authors to be effective in control of pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome. Chan reported that 14 of 20 patients with complex regional pain syndrome were successfully treated. Leo also described one child with complex regional pain syndrome who recovered after receiving acupuncture therapy.



  1. Dr. S. Parthasarathy et al. Use of electro acupuncture in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome – A case series study. European journal of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences. 2015, vol. 2, issue 7, p.179 – 181.
  2. LTC Dean H. Hommer, MC USA. Chinese scalp acupuncture relieves pain and restores function in complex regional pain syndrome. Military Medicine, 177, 10:1231, 2012.
  3. M.I. Korpan et al. Acupuncture in treatment of posttraumatic pain syndrome. Acta Orthopedica Belgica. Vol 65 – 2 – 1999.
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