Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a rare and chronic (lasting more than 6 months) pain disorder that normally affects an extremity (hand, arm, leg or foot) but can occur anywhere on the body. Sometimes, it may even spread from its original source to somewhere else in the body.
CRPS, previously known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is divided into two subtypes:
- CRPS-I: a form of CRPS with no evidence of a specific peripheral nerve injury.
- CRPS-II: a form of CRPS with specific evidence of a nerve injury.
CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to or malfunction of the peripheral and central nervous systems. It may develop as a result of a trauma (forceful injury), surgery, stroke or a heart attack. It can develop from something as innocuous as a needle prick. CRPS is characterized by extreme, intense and constant pain that is disproportionate to the original problem. These symptoms may be accompanied by extreme sensitivity, swelling and changes to skin and nail color.
Symptoms vary in sensitivity and duration from individual to individual. In mild cases, symptoms may decrease or even disappear. Individuals with moderate to severe CRPS may be symptomatic for months or even years. The most severe cases may have symptoms indefinitely, which can be debilitating to the point of long-term disability.
CRPS can occur in anyone at any age (with a typical peak of 40 years of age). It occurs most commonly in women, rarely occurs in the elderly, very rarely occurs in children under 10 and almost never occurs in children under the age of 5.
Treatment for CRPS
Typical conservative treatments for CRPS include: manual physical therapy and exercise to improve blood flow and lessen circulatory symptoms as well as improve flexibility, strength and function. Other treatment methods may include acupuncture, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided motion therapy or chiropractic treatment. Psychotherapy counseling and behavior modification may be prescribed for people who experience depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to help them cope with and recover from CRPS.
CRPS needs to be treated in the early stages for optimal effectiveness. Over time the affected limb may become cold and pale with changes in skin and nail color and possibly muscle spasms. Once these symptoms occur CRPS is typically irreparable.
Are you suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? The best thing to do is schedule some time with us so we can show you how we can help.