Physio role in CRPS highlighted in new guidelines

The importance of physiotherapy intervention in the management of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is highlighted in a new set of guidelines.

The full UK guidelines, endorsed by the CSP and published in June, follow the release of concise CRPS guidelines at the end of last year.

Aimed at healthcare professionals across a range of clinical settings, the new guidelines give advice on the diagnosis and management of adults with CRPS – a debilitating, painful condition in the limbs, associated with sensory, motor, autonomic, skin and bone abnormalities.

Key messages are that prompt diagnosis and early treatment are needed to avoid secondary physical problems associated with disuse of the limb, and the possible psychological effects of living with undiagnosed chronic pain.

The guidance warns that CRPS symptoms often mimic other conditions and can be difficult to diagnose, with appropriate treatment delayed as a result. It says CRPS symptoms can be ongoing, with patients requiring long-term support.

Dr Heather Cameron, physiotherapy professional lead at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, sat on the panel of healthcare experts that oversaw development of the guidelines.

Dr Cameron said the longer guidelines highlighted the role of therapeutic management of CRPS and were of particular interest to physiotherapists.

‘I’m delighted with the new guidelines, which recommend a key role for physiotherapists in the management of this rare, and often very difficult to manage condition.’

She added: ‘CRPS is often misdiagnosed in the early stages, and physiotherapists have an important role to play here in picking up the condition and recognising it early.’

Copies of Complex regional pain syndrome in adults: UK guidelines for diagnosis, referral and management in primary and secondary care can be downloaded from:

Sally Priestley

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