Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Date: July 17, 2021

Pain is usually rather black and white, so you can figure out what's causing it. In some circumstances, however, it can be more perplexing, such as in the case of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which the authors claim is uncommon and thus poorly understood.

According to the report, this type of pain frequently arises after an injury or surgery and is "out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury." While doctors may not know much about it, there are treatments available that should be started as soon as possible. Continue reading to discover more about CRPS, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and How Does It Affect You?

Following an injury, this rare and chronic illness commonly affects one limb, foot, or arm, according to. According to the website, the pain is out of proportion to the harm. “A person who develops CRPS as a result of an injury may experience pain that is more intense than they would have expected with such an incident,” it says.

While it usually only affects one leg, the article explains that it can affect the entire body, including the internal organs. It could be an autoimmune disorder, in which the body inflames in response to a perceived threat. It's not only pain; there are other symptoms as well, which we'll go through later.

CRPS Varieties

As if CRPS wasn't complicated enough, it comes in two varieties: Type 1 and Type 2. They have similar indications and symptoms, although various causes are known. Then we'll dig deeper into what they are and what causes them.

Understanding the Differences Between Types 1 and 2 CRPS

According to the Mayo Clinic, type 1 is known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), which comes after an illness or accident, and the pain isn't caused by direct damage to neurons in the affected area. It is estimated that 90% of instances fall into this category.

Furthermore, Type 2 was previously known as "causalgia," and it exhibits many of the same symptoms as Type 1. The discomfort, however, is linked to a nerve injury in the affected location in this situation. It's referred to as a "distinct nerve damage" by Mayo Clinic.

What Causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

There's still a lot to learn about what causes this excruciating disease. However, rather than a single cause, it's more probable "from several reasons that elicit similar symptoms."

There are suggestions that pain receptors grow sensitive to "nervous system messengers" called catecholamines, according to the report. Another notion is that an injury triggers an immunological response, which results in inflammation of the injured area. As a result, CRPS is thought to be a disruption of the healing process, according to the source.

Symptoms of CRPS outlines a number of symptoms that are telltale markers of CRPS, the most prominent of which is "pain that is out of proportion to the severity of your injury." It can get to the point where even the tiniest contact causes excruciating pain.

A “burning” feeling, skin swelling, changes in skin temperature (relative to the opposite limb), pigmentation of the afflicted area (looking bruised or pale), and restricted range of motion in the affected limb are some of the other symptoms. It goes on to say that these symptoms commonly appear 4 to 6 weeks after an injury or surgery.

Symptoms Have the Potential to Spread

It's worth noting that CRPS symptoms can worsen with time and migrate from the cause to other parts of the body. Consider your opposing limb.

While some people's CRPS symptoms go away on their own, others may have symptoms for months or even years! This is why it is critical to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.

What Is the Process of Diagnosis?

Unfortunately, there are no precise tests that can determine whether or not someone has CRPS. A combination of medical history (including whether you've had a recent accident or surgery), physical exam, and a study of your symptoms is used to diagnose it.

Different temperatures between two limbs, the appearance of the skin in the affected area, or an odd pain response are all symptoms that your healthcare practitioner will check for (more specifically, more pain than there should be). They'll also examine for any underlying medical issues that might be causing the symptoms.

Complications Can Occur

Long-term, unexplained discomfort is often enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. The Mayo Clinic, on the other hand, warns that if the illness isn't treated, it can lead to tissue atrophy. Because of the immobility, muscle, skin, and bones begin to deteriorate.

Contracture, which is a medical term for muscular tightness, is also a possibility. According to the report, this can lead your fingers or toes to contract "into a permanent position."

There Are Several Treatment Options

Despite the fact that the ailment is poorly understood, doctors have discovered several techniques to alleviate it. Sympathetic nerve blocks, which include inserting an anaesthetic near to the spine, are one of the therapy options for CRPS, according to WebMD.

It also mentions a "controversial" treatment termed a sympathectomy, which eliminates the nerves linked to CRPS.

Other Treatment Alternatives

Intrathecal drug pumps, which carry pain drugs into the spinal fluid, and spinal cord stimulation, which uses electrodes near to the spine and appears to help some patients, are two more approaches.

Non-drug techniques, such as, can also be beneficial in some circumstances.

Is it Possible to Prevent CRPS?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several things that may be done to assist prevent CRPS from developing after an accident. It recommends taking after a wrist fracture, for example. It cites research that show those who receive a "high dose" after an accident have a lower probability of developing CRPS than those who do not. advises that taking 500 mg each day for seven weeks is a reasonable starting point.

Moving around as much as possible after a stroke, according to the clinic, may also be beneficial. It claims that “some studies suggests that getting out of bed and walking around quickly after a stroke (early mobilisation) reduces the likelihood of developing CRPS.”

When Should You See a Doctor?

Early intervention, as you can see, is critical. It's time to see your doctor if you're having extreme pain in one of your limbs to the point where touching or moving it is painful.

Explain your symptoms and medical history during your session to assist your doctor in determining the main cause. Your doctor will then be able to diagnose it and, if necessary, provide therapy.

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