The symptoms of CRPS usually initially manifest near the site of an injury, which is usually minor. The most common symptoms overall are pain sensations, including burning, stabbing, grinding, and throbbing. Moving or touching the limb is often intolerable. The patient may also experience muscle spasms, local swelling, sensitivity to things such as water, touch, and vibrations, abnormally increased sweating, changes in skin temperature (usually hot but sometimes cold) and color (bright red or a reddish violet), softening and thinning of bones, joint tenderness or stiffness, and/or restricted or painful movement. Since CRPS is a systemic problem, potentially any organ can be affected.
The pain of CRPS is continuous, and it is widely recognised that it can be heightened by emotional or physical stress. Limbic system involvement suggests a propensity for trouble with sleeping, mood, appetite, and sexual desire; in a study of 824 patients with CRPS, 92% reported insomnia; 78% irritability, agitation, and anxiety; 73% depression, and 48% poor memory and lack of concentration.