CRPS / RSD
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) affects patients who have experienced a trauma or injury to one or more off their limbs (hands, arms, feet, legs). In addition to pain in the affected limb, there may also be swelling and/or changes in skin color and temperature. With the exception of young children, CRPS affects all ages and genders, but it is more common in women than men, and the average age of those affected is around 40. In most cases, symptoms are mild and patients recover in time, but in severe cases, long-term disability may occur.
It is unknown why some individuals who experience trauma develop CRPS while others do not, but in almost all cases, CRPS is preceded by a known injury or trauma, such as fractures, sprains, bruises, or even medical procedures. There is limited data to suggest that CRPS has a genetic component as the disorder has been seen in family clusters. In some cases, individuals develop CRPS without any known history of injury or trauma. In these cases, a careful examination is needed to determine the exact cause.
The primary symptom of CRPS is pain in the affected limb, which may spread over the entire limb, and even travel to the opposite limb (even if the initial injury was to a finger or toe). Issues with muscle coordination and joint stiffness may also occur. Other symptoms include changes in the temperature, skin color, sensitivity, and swelling of the affected limb, due to damage to the nerves that control blood flow and temperature.
Certain medications have proven effective in treating CRPS for some people, including NSAID’s, steroids, opioids, topical creams, antidepressants, etc. Exercises as part of rehab therapy help to improve circulation and strength in the affected limbs. Psychotherapy addresses the anxiety and depression that often accompanies chronic, painful conditions. Other therapies include neuromodulation, nerve blocks, ketamine treatment, and alternate therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic. Most patients respond to treatment, especially if it is applied in the early stages of CRPS, but not every treatment will be effective for every patient, and patients may need to try more than one therapy in order to find relief.
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