Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome, also known as CRPS, is a chronic condition that primarily affects the arms and legs. There are many possible causes of complex regional pain syndrome, including traumatic injuries, post-surgical complications, stroke, or a heart attack. While this condition is known for its complicated nature, the team at Southwest Spine & Pain Center has been diagnosing and treating patients with complex regional pain syndrome for many years. Patients experiencing early signs of CRPS should notify their SWSP physician right away, as immediate treatment can put the condition in remission, or at the very least, significantly improve symptoms.

Complex regional pain syndrome can produce a wide range of symptoms with the most common symptom being continuous, throbbing pain in the upper and lower extremities. Other symptoms related to this condition include increased sensitivity to touch, cold, or heat, as well as changes in skin temperature, color, and texture. Patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome may also develop joint stiffness, muscle spasms, changes in hair and nail growth, and limited mobility in the affected limbs. Depending on the severity of the condition, patients may experience these symptoms every few weeks or every few days. In severe cases, patients will feel pain that persists for hours at a time, significantly decreasing their quality of life.

As we mentioned previously, complex regional pain syndrome is typically caused by direct damage to the nerves from a traumatic injury, illness, or surgery. Having said that, it is possible for patients to develop complex regional pain syndrome from no known direct or distinct cause. As such, physicians will categorize complex regional pain syndrome as either type 1 or type 2 to help determine possible treatment options for patients who’ve developed the condition from a known nerve injury (type 2) or from an injury or ailment that didn’t damage the nerves (type 1). According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 90% of people who suffer from CRPS are considered type 1 patients.

Early treatment of complex regional pain syndrome can significantly improve symptoms and put the condition in remission. Therefore, if patients are experiencing symptoms that may indicate the presence of complex regional pain syndrome, they should schedule an appointment with a physician at SWSP right away. Treatment for CRPS may include over-the-counter pain relievers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, prescription pain medications, corticosteroid injections or nerve blocks, topical analgesics, physical therapy, TENS units, biofeedback, spinal cord stimulation, and hot and cold therapy. An SWSP physician may use a combination of techniques to ensure complete pain relief from complex regional pain syndrome.