Unfortunately, there is no single test for diagnosing CRPS. It is often as much about discounting other conditions as the cause of each symptom as it is about positively diagnosing the symptoms of CRPS.
Medical imaging such as MRI scans and x-rays can discount an underlying structural cause and blood tests can help to eliminate causes such as infections and arthritis.
An anaesthetic block administered to the sympathetic nervous system can help to diagnose that as the cause.
A physical examination can reveal changes to the skin, abnormal hair growth, changes to finger or toe nails and the presence of swelling. Some doctors are now using thermographic cameras to compare the heat between limbs and ultraviolet cameras to better see the mottling of the skin. Clearly, some of these changes are subtle and the use of technology in diagnosis is likely to become increasingly important.
Of course, the difficulty in diagnosing CRPS can invariably lead to delay. As the vast majority of our clients start their claims with other law firms before approaching us for more specialist representation, it can often be between several months and two or three years before we take over conduct of the claim. With that in mind, it is quite staggering that the majority of our new clients have either only recently received a diagnosis of CRPS or are still awaiting a diagnosis for their condition.