Chronic Pain as a Symptom – Understanding CRPS

Superior Diagnosis and Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Are you experiencing unexplained moderate-to-severe pain and seeking to find the cause? You may have been on a long journey for a concrete diagnosis. Perhaps your physician suggested that your symptoms could possibly be due to CRPS–Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

There are a number of conditions that have serious, chronic pain as a symptom, along with others that are also present in CRPS.  Let us show you  more about this condition and its symptoms to help you rule it in–or out.

What is CRPS?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands or feet), usually after an injury or trauma to that limb.  CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems.  CRPS occurs when the nervous system and the immune system malfunction as they respond to tissue damage from trauma.  The nerves misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain.  The level of pain often measures as one of the most severe. CRPS generally follows a musculoskeletal injury, a nerve injury, surgery or immobilization.  The persistent pain and disability associated with CRPS require coordinated, interdisciplinary, patient-centered care to achieve pain reduction/cessation and better function.

Early diagnosis is the key to the best outcomes.  However, diagnosing CRPS is not an easy fete and many patients search for months or years for a definitive diagnosis.

CRPS is an actual physical disorder; unfortunately, it has not been unusual for medical professionals to suggest that people with CRPS exaggerate their pain for psychological reasons.  Trust your body and continue to seek a diagnosis.  If it is in fact, complex regional pain syndrome, the pain is NOT in your mind!

Who can get CRPS?

Anyone can have CRPS.  It can strike at any age and affects both men and women, although it is much more common in women.  The average age of affected individuals is about age 40.  CRPS is rare in the elderly.  Children normally do not get it before age 5 and only rarely before age 10 but it is common in teenagers.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

The key symptom is prolonged pain that may be constant and, in some people, extremely uncomfortable or severe.  The pain may feel like a burning or “pins and needles” sensation, or as though someone is squeezing the affected limb.  The pain can spread to include the entire arm or leg, even though the precipitating injury might have been only to a finger or toe.  Pain can sometimes even travel to the opposite extremity.  There is often increased sensitivity in the affected area, such that even light touch or contact is painful.  You can experience constant or intermittent changes in temperature, skin color, and swelling of the affected limb.  This is because of the abnormal microcirculation caused by damage to the nerves controlling blood flow and temperature.  An affected arm or leg may feel warmer or cooler compared to the opposite limb.  The skin on the affected limb can change color, become blotch, blue, purple pale or red.  You can also encounter the following:

How is CRPS diagnosed?

There is no single diagnostic test to confirm CRPS.  Diagnosis is based on the affected individual’s medical history and signs/symptoms that best fit the definition.  But because several other conditions can cause similar symptoms, careful examination is important.  Since most people improve gradually over time, diagnosis can be more difficult later in the course of the disorder.  The distinguishing feature of CRPS is usually a history of earlier injury to the affected area, as most of these other conditions are not triggered by injury.  Individuals without a history of injury should be carefully examined to make certain that another treatable diagnosis is not missed.  The experts will insure to take all of the necessary steps to appropriately diagnose and treat the cause of your discomfort.

How is CRPS treated?

What is the prognosis?

The outcome of CRPS varies from person to person.  Almost all children and teenagers have good recovery.  Some individuals are left with unremitting pain and crippling, irreversible changes despite treatment. Early treatment, particularly rehabilitation, is helpful in limiting the disorder.  We are the board-certified experts and we are sincerely committed to facilitating your pain-free life.  Take the time to discuss your symptoms with your Summit Pain Alliance Specialist and always remember to write down any questions prior to the visit. We enjoy assisting our patients to live an optimally balanced and pain-free lives.

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