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Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a neuropathic pain disorder with significant autonomic features. Few treatments have proven effective, in part, because of a historically poor understanding of the mechanisms underlying the disorder. CRPS research largely conducted during the past decade has substantially increased knowledge regarding its pathophysiologic mechanisms, indicating that they are multifactorial. Both peripheral and central nervous system mechanisms are involved. These include peripheral and central sensitization, inflammation, altered sympathetic and catecholaminergic function, altered somatosensory representation in the brain, genetic factors, and psychophysiologic interactions. Relative contributions of the mechanisms underlying CRPS may differ across patients and even within a patient over time, particularly in the transition from "warm CRPS" (acute) to "cold CRPS" (chronic). Enhanced knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of CRPS increases the possibility of eventually achieving the goal of mechanism-based CRPS diagnosis and treatment.