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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

The human body is a truly wonderous creation, that, even after all of this time and with all of the breakthroughs in modern medicine and science, we do not fully understand. CRPS happens to be one of them. But what exactly is CRPS, what are the typical symptoms, how is a diagnosis made, and do doctors really not know what causes it? Well, to help make things a little more transparent, take a look at the following and hopefully all will become clear.

What is CRPS? – CRPS, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is a medical condition which is used to describe a wide variety of different types of symptoms, including acute pain and other chronic conditions. Typically, these chronic conditions are categorized via a deep and painful burning sensation that effects the outer extremities. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) was once primarily referred to as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).

As a better understanding of the condition has evolved it has been determined that Complex regional pain syndrome occurs in two types, with similar signs and symptoms, but different causes:

Type 1- Also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), this type occurs after an illness or injury that didn’t directly damage the nerves in your affected limb. About 90 percent of people with complex regional pain syndrome have type 1.

Type 2- Once referred to as causalgia, this type has similar symptoms to type 1. But type 2 complex regional pain syndrome follows a distinct nerve injury.

What are the primary causes of CRPS? – As touched upon previously, as yet, experts do not fully understand what causes CRPS. The good news is that there are theories out there that do hold up. For example, there is strong evidence to suggest that the condition is triggered by the disfunction of a person’s central and peripheral nervous system. However, that theory is often questioned because you generally find that CRPS occurs after an individual has suffered some form of trauma to their outer extremities. Typically, when people have suffered fractures, sprains, verve or blood vessel damage, head trauma, or after having undergone surgery, the symptoms associated with CRPS can manifest themselves.

What are the more common symptoms of CRPS? – Some of the most common symptoms of CRPS include the following:

  • Heightened skin sensitivity
  • A burning pain in the outer extremities
  • Sweating
  • Hot and/or cold flushes
  • Changes in skin color
  • The development of a rash
  • Nail and hair growth changes
  • Reduced or limited range of motion
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Swelling in the affected area

How can CRPS be diagnosed and treated? – As of yet, there are no single lab tests that can be performed to diagnose CRPS, although X-rays, as well as nerve-conduction tests, have been found to be useful. Generally, the most common way to diagnose CRPS however, is to look at the symptoms and determine how many, if any, the patient is suffering from.

In terms of treatment, physical therapy was once a popular choice (with mixed results), though there are also a series of medications on the market that have been found to be fairly effective in treating CRPS as well. Gabapentin and Lyrica (anti-convulsant), for example, is commonly prescribed if symptoms are especially persistent. Opiates are also a consideration although they posses more addictive properties and are under the scrutiny of our health care system.  Ketamine infusions have become a popular option to help treat and manage CRPS. In more extreme cases spinal cord stimulators and amputation have been found to be treatment options.

With all of the treatment options available to CRPS/RSD patients it is advised to start with the least evasive procedures and treatments first.  Scrambler Pain Therapy is the latest “go to” treatment for those suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.  Scrambler Pain Therapy is the only FDA approved electrical therapy to offer significant relief after just one treatment.  No medications or surgeries required. For more information call 480-857-2098 today! Serving Phoenix, Mesa, Gold Canyon


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