Also referred to as CRPS, complex regional pain syndrome causes consistent pain over a long period of time and is directly connected to a problem in the nervous system. It most commonly affects an extremity such as the hands and fingers. Usually, CRPS develops due to an injury that causes the nervous system to malfunction, but the injury doesnt have to be severe. In fact, people have developed CRPS from something as minor as a paper cut. When the nervous system reports pain, it could misfire and act in the wrong manner, leading to complex regional pain syndrome.
Most cases of CRPS come from a minor injury, but can develop after a major injury as well. The direct cause may never be diagnosed. Generally, complex regional pain syndrome develops in individuals between the ages of 25 and 55, and it is much more common in women.
Symptoms of CRPS
Of course, the main symptom that develops in CRPS patients will be constant pain that can range from burning to intense. Specific symptoms include:
- A pain that feels like burning sensations
- Sensitivity of the skin in the area
- Skin that feels warmer or colder to the other hand
- Skin that turns purple or red and becomes blotchy
- Skin that becomes shiny, sweaty, or thin
- Hands that become swollen or stiff
- Inability to use the hand properly
The pain may remain in the hand that was injured, but in some cases, it spreads throughout the arm and can even effect the other hand and arm as well.
Treatment for CRPS
The actual treatment used will depend on each individual case. Doctors may use one or more of the following treatments based on the severity of the CRPS and the patient themselves.
- Physical Therapy
- Nerve Blocking Medication or Nerve Block Injections
- Medications for Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep Problems
In some cases, the CRPS develops because a nerve in the hand or arm has been compressed to the point that it becomes inflamed and swollen. If this is the case, then surgery can be done to release the pressure off of the nerve by cutting a surrounding tendon. In severe cases of CRPS, a drug pump may be installed, which allows the patient to have a constant course of pain medication.
Because every case of CRPS is different, the actual prognosis for the patient can vary immensely. In some cases, the pain can be completely reversed. In other cases, it is a continual problem despite efforts to repair the injury or correct the nerve malfunctioning.
Complex regional pain syndrome can be very tricky since it may develop out of the most minor of injuries. Due to this, the patient may have no idea what happened or when. Since there are numerous different treatments for the condition, most cases can be managed, though. If you believe you are showing the symptoms of CRPS, then it is important that you make an appointment with a physician to determine what might be wrong and what course of treatment will help.