Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Individuals experiencing chronic pain in an arm or leg after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack may be suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
The pain from CRPS is usually much greater than the pain caused by the initial injury.
Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The following symptoms are common indicators of CRPS:
Changes in skin texture
Sensitivity to touch or cold
Changes in hair and nail growth
Swelling, stiffness, and damage in the joints
Muscle spasms, tremors, weakness, and atrophy
Decreased range of motion in the affected body part
Fluctuations in skin temperature, from sweaty to cold
Changes in skin color, from white and blotchy to red or blue
Persistent burning or throbbing pain in the arm, leg, hand, or foot
Patients experiencing these symptoms need to begin treatment as soon as possible to avoid developing irreversible symptoms.
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Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
CRPS may be caused by trauma or injury. Patients may be diagnosed with one of the following types of CRPS:
Type 1. Also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), Type 1 CRPS is caused by an illness or injury that didn’t inflict direct damage to the nerves in the affected limb. Nine out of 10 CRPS cases are type 1.
Type 2. Once referred to as causalgia, Type 2 CRPS is caused by a direct nerve injury.
CRPS may occur after:
Forceful trauma to an arm or a leg, such as a crushing injury or a fracture
The exact reason why these injuries may potentially trigger CRPS is not yet known, but it may be due to dysfunctional communication between the central and peripheral nervous systems and inappropriate inflammatory responses.
The right treatment for CRPS will depend on the severity of the patient’s symptoms and their overall condition. At Central Nevada Regional Care, patients diagnosed with CRPS may be treated with pain management therapy, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine.
Patients undergoing pain management therapy may be treated with hot and cold therapy, massage, acupuncture, tai chi, deep breathing, opioids, antidepressants, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, yoga, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and beta-blockers.
Joint and soft tissue injections may also help alleviate pain from CRPS. Injections offered at Central Nevada Regional Care include piriformis injections, epidural injections, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections.
Some cases of CRPS interfere with daily life and impair a patient’s ability to perform job duties. In these cases, occupational medicine could help the patient adjust to the demands of the workplace.
Staff at Central Nevada Regional Care are also trained to help employers make adjustments in the workplace to support employees diagnosed with CRPS. Occupational medicine can help both employers and injured employees create a plan that will meet their needs.
Some patients may need advanced treatment for CRPS. Advanced treatment may include chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and even surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak to their physician at Central Nevada Regional Care to learn more about obtaining advanced treatment.
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