Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS / RSD)
What You Should Know about Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
It is human nature to do whatever it takes to get rid of the pain we experience.
We use over-the-counter medications, rest, ice, heat, massage, compression, or a combination of these methods to find relief, but often the cause of our discomfort goes deeper than a simple sprain, strain, or overuse injury. When pain in your hand, arm, foot, or leg persists for longer than six months, it is time to consider a more complex diagnosis.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is classified by chronic pain lasting more than six months, in one limb such as an arm, leg, foot, or hand. More than 90 percent of all cases of CRPS are caused by an injury or trauma to the area. The remaining cases do not have a confirmed injury but are instead caused by nerve deterioration.
What causes CRPS?
Your brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system which controls every other function in your body. The basic functions of life persist thanks to this part of your body. Breathing, blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse are all linked to the proper functioning of your central nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system radiates from the brain and spinal cord to control movement in your back, neck, arms, legs, hands, and feet. The peripheral nervous system is also the key to feeling pain in your body.
When nerve communications between the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system are changed by injury or deterioration, the brain interprets this interruption as pain.
Symptoms of CRPS
Most people with CRPS describe the pain they experience as a squeezing, stabbing or burning sensation in their hand, foot, arm, or leg. The key is that the pain is prolonged and severe, often disabling the patient to some degree.
Even though pain is the key symptom of CRPS, but it is not the only one. Many patients experience:
- Changes in skin temperature
- Changes in skin color
- Abnormal sweating in the affected area
- Changes in nail growth or hair growth in the area
- Abnormal movement
How is CRPS treated?
Most treatments for CRPS are focused on relieving pain and improving the function of the affected area. These treatments may include:
- Physical therapy– In many cases, strengthening the area and improving blood flow through exercise and physical therapy is enough to relieve pain in the affected area.
- Medications– When used appropriately under the watchful eye of a skilled pain management specialist, pain medications can be effective at relieving many symptoms associated with CRPS.
- BurstDR Stimulation Therapy –BurstDR therapy changes the way the brain perceives pain signals from a particular area. Since CRPS is, at its root, a nerve disorder, BurstDR is able to interrupt the nerve signals sent from the affected area, allowing you to experience lasting relief without medication.
If you are experiencing CRPS or if you have pain that just won’t seem to go away, call our office for a consultation.