What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex Regional Pain SyndromeComplex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic pain and sensory condition that typically affects the arms and legs. Women are more likely to be affected than men and the disease is most common between the ages of 40-60.

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain and sensory condition. Over the years, Complex regional pain syndrome has been known by a number of different names including Sudecks atrophy, causalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RDS), shoulder-hand syndrome, post- traumatic dystrophy, and reflex neurovascular dystrophy.

Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is most frequently seen after trauma to an arm or leg. Other factors include recent surgery, infection, and fractures; all of which can lead to complex regional pain syndrome. Women are more likely to be affected than men and the disease is most common between the ages of 40-60.  Although the pain can be experienced anywhere in the body, most commonly it affects the upper and lower extremities.

Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain SyndromeHere are a few treatment options for complex regional pain syndrome:

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks: This procedure involves inserting a small fine needle through the skin to the origins of the sympathetic nervous system. When the nerves are blocked, pain relief can be dramatic for some individuals.
  • Spinal cord stimulation: This method involves tiny electrodes being placed within the epidural space close to the spinal cord. The electrodes release a small electrical current to the spinal cord that inhibits pain transmission causing pain relief.
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation: This method involves tiny electrodes being placed close to the affected nerves. The electrodes release a small electrical current that inhibits pain transmission and causes pain relief.
  • Complex Regional Pain SyndromePhysical therapy: In order to decrease or prevent functional limitations, physical therapy and occupational therapy are recommended as well as medical treatments. Physical therapy focuses on exercising the affected limbs, and improving range of motion and strength.
  • Biofeedback: Patients learn to have a better awareness and familiarity with their body. As they learn to relax their body, pain relief is obtained. The psychological component of treatment can work with medical therapies to improve function and decrease the severity of the disease.

Dramatic improvements and even remission of complex regional pain syndrome are possible. The sooner treatment is initiated; the more likely dramatic improvements are obtained.

Conclusion

Living with a chronic pain condition can be extremely difficult. People with CRPS have an exceptionally difficult time because others do not understand the amount of pain that they experience. Treatment for this condition should go beyond the physical symptoms. Your pain specialists are aware of the emotional hardships that you face and can help you relax and de-stress by offering you coping techniques. Contact your doctor to learn more.

References

 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/complex-regional-pain-syndrome/DS00265

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/complex-regional-pain-syndrome

http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/Complex-Regional-Pain-Syndrome.aspx