What is complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a condition that causes pain, swelling, and many other symptoms. CPRS usually occurs in just one part of the body, such as an arm or leg. Although there are a small percentage of patients can have symptoms on both the right and left side of their body. For example, Right and Left leg.

Many time CRPS will occur in the an extremity such as a hand or foot.

CRPS often starts after a bone fracture, injury (such as a sprain), surgery, or a stroke. Most people who have CRPS often have pain that is more severe than what most doctors would expect from the injury, surgery, or other medical problem. In some cases, especially in children, CRPS can start without an injury or surgery.

Here are the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS):

Symptoms of CRPS can include:

●Pain – The pain can be burning, tingling, throbbing, or aching. It is also usually severe. In many cases patients may have pain from normal touch this is referred to as allodynia.

●Being sensitive to touch or cold, or not feeling touch or pain normally.

●Swelling in the body part with CRPS

●Difficulty moving the body part with CRPS due to pain, swelling, and or stiffness

●Shaking or muscle spasm in the body part affected by CRPS

●Skin changes – includes changes in skin thickness, temperature, very commonly color of skin changing, or sweating more or less than usual.

●Changes in the way the hair and nails develop and grow

Often, the first symptoms of CRPS include pain, redness, and swelling of the affected area. Usually the area with CRPS will feel warm initially, but later will often change from warm to cold. In some patients, they will feel cold initially.

How do you test for complex regional pain syndrome?

There is not just one test to diagnose CRPS. Often we can block the affected nerve to that area to see if it could be the cause of the pain.

The doctor or nurse will do an exam and ask questions. He or she can usually tell if a person has CRPS from the symptoms, medical history, and exam.

If we are not sure if a person has CRPS, we might order imaging tests such as a bone scan, X-ray, or MRI. These tests can show changes to the bones, joints, or skin that are often caused by CRPS.

Occasionally we will do tests that measure skin temperature, sweating, and often nerve sensitivity. These tests can help determine if there is a neuropathy that could be causing the CPRS.

How complex regional pain syndrome is treated:

Treatment for CRPS is different for each person. Depending on the cause of the CPRS different treatments may be needed to see what works best.

Treatments for CRPS include:

●Turning off nerves (usually by injections) that may be causing the CPRS to occur

●Placement of pain “pace-makers” that turn off painful stimulation to one area of the body.

●Physical therapy to perform exercises and stretches, and keep the body part with CRPS mobile and functional.

●Taking medicines to relieve pain – These can be prescription or over-the-counter pain relieving medicines.

●Injections (shots) of numbing or pain-relieving medicines

●Pain-relieving medicine given in the spine

●Devices to help stop nerve signals of pain

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can it be prevented?

There have been case reports of vitamin C usually given IV after breaking a bone or having surgery might help prevent CRPS. Unfortunately, it is not clear. Occasionally, we offer IV therapy to correct deficits during the healing stages of CPRS.

If you are concerned about having CPRS or are looking for help please contact our office by clicking here.

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