Complex Regional Pain Syndrome often develops in a limb such as an arm or a leg. The root cause is generally an injury, such as a car accident or a past surgery. There are two types of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. CRPS-I includes individuals without confirmed nerve injuries, but who have often sustained an injury or trauma to a limb. CRPS-II describes patients with confirmed nerve injuries and pain in the area of that nerve. Symptoms of both CRPS I and II include pain to light touch, color changes, swelling in the limb and decreased movement in the area affected. It is important to rule out any other problems that may cause similar symptoms prior to making the diagnosis of CRPS, including complications from a surgery or poor blood flow to the painful, symptomatic area.
The foundation of treatment for this condition is a multidisciplinary treatment plan, which involves treatment from multiple healthcare providers. Your pain management physician will coordinate this treatment plan. We frequently use nerve blocks to interrupt signals coming from a division of your nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. We also prescribe medications such as Gabapentin and Lyrica to act directly on nerves and calm down the painful signals they are sending to your brain. Also, there are very specific and proven techniques that a physical therapist will employ called desensitization techniques. Finally, we know pain from this condition can take a toll on a person’s emotions and interactions with loved ones. This can lead to increased stress causing even more pain. Therefore, we often work closely with a pain psychologist who provides proven treatments to decrease pain through coping and relaxation skills. These treatments help decrease pain and restore movement and function in the affected limb.
We can often improve the function of a limb that is affected by CRPS through a multidisciplinary approach as described above and coordinated by your pain management physician. This process can take weeks to months, but patients often notice a reduction in pain while restoring function in their affected limb. We have many ways to help treat your symptoms of CRPS here at Javery Pain Institute and look forward to helping you in the future!