As we discussed on the blog yesterday, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic neurological pain syndrome. There are many treatments that can help with the symptoms of CRPS; however, there is no single treatment to cure.

The following treatments can help ease symptoms:

Pharmacological Therapy – Pain management physicians may prescribe an appropriate medication regimen.

Interventional Therapy –  Procedures – often using fluoroscopic/x-ray guidance – performed by anesthesiology-trained pain physicians can help reduce painful nerve pathways. These may include: sympathetic nerve blocks and peripheral nerve blocks; or spinal cord stimulation – a well-established treatment option that involves a temporary trial of the therapy and option of permanent implantation of the device.

Conservative Therapy – Desensitization therapy regimen, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy or electrical acupuncture – all performed by chiropractic staff.

When prescribed one of the aforementioned treatment plans, following it is critical to success to maximize relief of symptoms. The conservative therapies are as critically important as the pharmacological and interventional therapies.

More specifically, desensitization therapy is used to modify how sensitive an area is to a specific stimulus. It is designed to apply a stimulus to the affected area for short periods of time, which can be done frequently throughout the day. Desensitization therapy often includes application of unpleasant stimuli to the hypersensitive area for a short period of time. These unpleasant stimuli are things that the body is often exposed to daily; thus, they are not harmful or damaging. The items used for desensitization therapy vary depending on what stimuli the affected body part transmits as pain.

Such desensitization programs begin with stimuli that produce the least painful response. Once the painful area starts to acclimate to the applied stimulus, the next stimulus is incorporated. For example, a therapy program may start with soft material such as silk, and progress to rougher materials like wool or textured fabrics (i.e. Velcro). Desensitization exercises, stretching, hot and cold stimuli, TENS unit therapy as well as electro-acupuncture may be incorporated in the treatment to decrease pain and normalize nerve responses. Depending on the severity of the condition it may be at times more tolerable to the patient, especially early in the therapy, if he or she seeks alternate modalities to help ease the discomfort. These modalities may include sympathetic nerve blocks, peripheral nerve blocks, and/ or analgesic medications provided by our pain physicians.

Desensitization therapy is used to minimize the body’s painful response to a certain stimuli. The goal of this therapy is to hinder or interrupt the body’s interpretation of routine stimuli as painful stimuli. To begin, it is advised patients speak with a physician, chiropractor or therapist to determine if any of the previously discussed therapies are appropriate and recommended.


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