Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain that usually occurs in the arm or a leg after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack. The pain is usually worse than the initial cause of the pain.
Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The exact cause of CRPS is not known. However, it may be caused by an injury or abnormal inflammation, nerve damage or dysfunction.
CRPS occurs in two types which include:
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
Type 1 CRPS occurs after an injury or condition that didn’t directly damage the nerves in the affected limb.
Type 2 CRPS occurs after a nerve injury.
Causes of CRPS include:
- Trauma to the arm or leg
- Injury or fracture to the arm or leg
- Heart attacks
- Sprained ankles
- Irregular communication between the central and peripheral nervous systems
- Dysfunctional or inappropriate inflammatory responses
Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Symptoms of CRPS include:
- Changes in skin texture
- Changes in skin temperature
- Changes in skin color
- Changes in hair and nail growth
- Joint stiffness
- Joint inflammation and damage
- Muscle spasms, tremors, and weakness
- Muscle loss
- Reduced mobility around the affected part
- Continuous burning or throbbing pain in the arm, leg, hand, or foot
- Sensitivity to touch
- Swelling around the affected area
Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Medications for the treatment of CRPS include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers
Taking OTC pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium may help relieve pain and inflammation resulting from CRPS.
Prescription pain relievers
If OTC pain relievers don’t relieve your pain, prescription pain relievers such as opioids may be prescribed.
Corticosteroids such as prednisone may be injected into the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation and reduce pain.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants can be used to treat pain that is caused by nerve damage.
Your doctor may prescribe medications such as alendronate and calcitonin to prevent or stop bone loss.
Sympathetic nerve-blocking medication
Injecting an anesthetic into the affected nerves to block pain fibers can be very effective for pain relief.
There are certain therapies that can also help to relieve symptoms of CRPS. These include:
Various topical analgesics such as over-the-counter capsaicin cream, lidocaine cream, or patches can help reduce pain.
Physical or occupational therapy
Certain physical or occupational therapies may help reduce pain and improve mobility. Your physical therapist will guide you through some exercises that can help reduce pain and improve mobility.
Applying heat to the affected area may provide pain relief and reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS is an electrical nerve stimulation whereby a low electrical current is used to stimulate the nerve to reduce pain caused by nerve damage.
Spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation involves delivering a small electrical current into the spinal cord which results in pain relief.
Intrathecal drug pump
Intrathecal drug pump is a procedure whereby medications are pumped into the spinal cord fluid for quick effects. This procedure is an effective alternative to oral medications.
Learning biofeedback techniques to know how to become more aware of your body so that you can relax better can help provide pain relief.
Inserting long, thin needles into the affected area to stimulate the nerves, muscles, and connective tissues can increase blood flow and provide pain relief.
Is CRPS the most painful disease?
Though CRPS is not the most painful disease, it is a progressive disease that has been ranked among the most painful diseases.
How do you prove you have CRPS?
CRPS can usually be diagnosed if you are experiencing its symptoms.
You can also know if you have CRPS by going through some diagnoses. Diagnosis of CRPS includes a physical exam and reviewing your medical history.
Tests that you may undergo to diagnose CRPS include:
Your doctor may order an X-ray to check if there is a loss of minerals from your bones.
MRI captures images to show if there are tissue changes. This is done to rule out underlying problems with your tissue or bone.
A bone scan involves injecting a radioactive substance into one of your veins so that your bones can be seen with a special camera. Bone scan helps to find out if there are bone changes.
Sweat production test
Sweat production test measures the amount of sweat on both limbs. Uneven results from the sweat production tests may indicate CRPS.
Your doctor may conduct a nerve conduction test to rule out damage to nerves.
What causes complex regional pain syndrome?
CRPS occurs after an injury or trauma to the leg or arm. CRPS could also occur after a surgery, infection, heart attack, or stroke. The exact cause of CRPS is not known but it could be due to abnormal inflammation, nerve damage, or dysfunction.
What are the stages of CRPS?
CRPS is in three stages which are acute, subacute, and chronic.
The stages of CRPS include:
The acute stage usually lasts as long as one to three months. You may experience these symptoms:
- Severe burning or aching pain
- Skin temperature changes – cold or sweaty skin
- Skin color changes – red, blue, or pale
- Skin texture changes – thin, shiny, or tender
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Muscle tremors or spasms
- Swollen and stiff joints
- Rapid hair growth
- Rapid nail growth
2. Subacute stage
The subacute stage typically lasts for three to six months. Symptoms become more severe during this stage.
Symptoms in this stage include:
- The skin keeps changing
- Nails become hard, brittle, and easily cracked
- Pain intensity increases
- Pain that may spread throughout the limb or to the unaffected limb
- Joints considerably stiffen and swell
- Muscles weakness
- Hair growth slows down
3. Chronic stage
The chronic stage is long-lasting. It can last for many years and even become permanent.
- Intermittent or constant pain intensity
- The skin becomes dry, pale, cool, and shiny
- Bone atrophy can develop which could lead to loss of function of the affected limb
- Developing a frozen shoulder or a claw hand is a possibility in extreme cases
Is CRPS related to MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease whereby the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers and disrupts communication between your brain and the rest of your body. It is a disease that could disable the brain and central nervous system which can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
MS is considered an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. CRPS is not an autoimmune disease and doesn’t have any connection with MS. While CRPS is caused by injury or damage to the nerves, MS is considered an autoimmune disease that attacks the nerve’s protective sheath.
What is the best treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Some of the best treatments for CRPS include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription pain relievers, and corticosteroid injections. Other treatment options include topical analgesics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, heat therapy, and nerve blocks.
Can you get rid of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Early treatment is advised if you want to permanently get rid of CRPS. For most patients, CRPS is permanent. The treatment goal for most patients is to reduce the pain and slow down the progression of symptoms.
Can I get a disability for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
CRPS can last for a long time and make it impossible for you to continue working. If you will be out of work for at least 12 months due to complications from CRPS, you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits.
Can you still work with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Early treatment is a way to improve your condition and prevent symptoms from progressing. You may be able to continue working if you timely and effectively tackle your symptoms.
How long does it accept to recover from complex regional pain syndrome?
Recovery time varies by person, but you can expect to be in great pain for the first few days, and there’s a chance that this pain will continue for a while. In the worst cases, some people never truly recover from the syndrome or experience the syndrome again.
What does CRPS feel like?
It feels like a burning pain in a limb that doesn’t go away.
It can start with a superficial injury, and suddenly, you are constantly in pain and have no control over it.
It can feel like your leg is on fire, or feels like a sock is made of sandpaper, or like you have an elephant on top of your foot.
Is complex regional pain syndrome a permanent disability?
Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a permanent disability. It can be treated, but it cannot be cured. The good news is that CRPS care specialists can help patients manage their pain and lead a rich, whole, satisfying life.
Who gets complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?
CRPS is more common in women than men and is most often found in people between the ages of 20 and 50. In addition to its effect on significant nerves, CRPS can also affect other body areas, particularly joints.
Does complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) affect organ function?
CRPS can affect organ function, specifically the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. CRPS sufferers can have heart attacks caused by increased blood pressure. They may experience difficulty breathing due to excessive sweating and swelling of the limbs.
What happens during Stage I of complex regional pain syndrome?
Stage I is the mildest form of complex regional pain syndrome. The symptoms are usually localized to one finger or one toe, or sometimes to one hand or foot. Typically, the symptoms are mild and do not interfere with routine activities.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome you need to consult a reputable pain doctor.
Dr. Antonio Rozier MD is the best pain doctor that you should consult for CRPS. He is highly skilled and experienced in the treatment and management of various types of pain including CRPS.
Dr. Rozier uses the latest interventional and minimally invasive techniques for the treatment of pain. He is well-knowledgeable in the field of pain treatment and management. He knows the best approach to take to treat different types of pain.
If you are experiencing any kind of pain, Dr. Rozier is the best pain doctor that you should seek. He is familiar with regenerative interventional techniques, ultrasound-guided techniques, and other pain management techniques that will help relieve symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome and other conditions causing your pain.