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Patients with causalgia experience severe, burning pain in the hands or feet. Even light touches can cause intense pain. The board-certified experts at Houston Methodist provide advanced testing and treatment options to manage this rare neurological condition.  

Causalgia is a complex neurological condition that develops following damage to the peripheral nerves that extend to the arms and legs — particularly the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves that runs from the neck to the arm. Although there is no cure, this form of complex regional pain syndrome is manageable with the right treatment.  

Houston Methodist’s neurologist-led causalgia team offers comprehensive care and the widest array of proven treatment options, including nerve block procedures. Our goal is to help you find relief from pain and get you back to your daily activities.

Diagnosing & Treating Causalgia

How is causalgia diagnosed?

There is no specific test to diagnose causalgia. Your symptoms and medical history are the most critical factors in diagnosis. Causalgia symptoms can include:  


  • Changes in skin temperature, from cold to sweating  
  • Dry, scaly skin  
  • Developing ridges in the fingernails or toenails 
  • Coarse hair 
  • Increased or decreased blood flow 
  • Severe burning or throbbing pain in your hand or foot within 24 hours of injury 
  • Skin sensitivity that causes intense pain even when lightly touched 
  • Tapered fingers


Our experts will conduct a thorough physical exam, including tests that can confirm or rule out other conditions. Your doctor may recommend: 


  • Bone scans to detect changes in the bone 
  • MRI to show any tissue changes 
  • Sympathetic nervous system tests to look for disruption in nerve signaling 
  • Sweat tests to compare the amounts of salt chemicals in the affected and non-affected limbs 
  • Thermography to measure temperature differences across the affected limb 
  • X-rays to determine loss of bone minerals 


The pain specialists at Houston Methodist have access to the latest treatment options and decades of experience treating pain. Your care team will work together to design a personalized care plan to address your symptoms and help you find relief.  

What treatments are available?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need a combination of treatments to find relief. Medications alone often are not effective to control causalgia symptoms. Most patients find relief from more intensive treatments, such as:   


  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking injections that temporarily disrupt pain signals in affected nerves.  
  • Sympathectomy, which is surgery to block nerve signals from your spine to the affected limb. Approximately 80% of people find relief from this procedure. 

What if I need advanced care or a second opinion?

We understand how much causalgia can interfere with your life and everyday activities. Getting a precise diagnosis is key to finding relief and managing your symptoms. Houston Methodist’s experienced team of specialists can design a personalized care plan to improve your quality of life.  

Understanding Chronic Pain

Struggling with chronic pain? Explore suggestions for dealing with debilitating symptoms. 

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