It can start as a burning sensation that affects your arm or your leg for months at a time. In some cases, weakness, stiffness, and loss of mobility may follow. While the cause of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is still not well understood, treatments have been developed to help stop the pain and help individuals feel better.
What causes CRPS?
In most cases, CRPS occurs after an injury. However, the pain is more severe than you would expect. It may occur after a heart attack, stroke, or surgery. People can also develop CRPS without having experienced any kind of injury beforehand.
Who is most likely to get CRPS?
While it can strike anyone, CRPS is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 60. It is rare in elderly individuals.
What are CRPS symptoms?
CRPS affects a single area at a time, most often in an arm or leg. The most notable and common CRPS symptom is a burning pain. The skin on the affected limb may be sensitive to touch. The area may be swollen and sensitive to changes in temperature. The skin’s color and texture may change. People who have CRPS may also experience muscle weakness and stiffness in the affected joints. Over time they may experience a loss of mobility in the affected area.
How is CRPS diagnosed?
There is no single test that can diagnose CRPS. Your doctor will start with questions about the pain that you have been experiencing and a physical exam. You may have tests to determine the temperature of your skin and the blood flow to different areas of your body. MRIs can show if there are changes in the tissue in the affected limb.
How is CRPS treated?
CRPS can be treated in a number of different ways depending on which treatments best fit your specific symptoms. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or aspirin can help relieve pain and swelling. For more severe cases, steroids can help enhance healing and cut down on pain. Medications that help depression or seizures can also provide relief of chronic pain sometimes.
Nerve blocks can keep the pain signals from being sent to the brain. These involve an injection of a pain reliever to specific nerves. The injection will block pain signals from reaching the brain without affecting other sensations or your ability to move the affected limb.
Is there a cure for CRPS?
For some people, the symptoms will eventually resolve on their own. This is most common in less severe cases. CRPS is easier to treat when it is caught early and treatment is started right away.
In more severe cases that have been going on for a longer time, patients may not respond to treatment. A consistent pain management program can help bring relief from chronic pain.
At PRM, we are dedicated to helping our patients manage and eliminate pain. Do you have symptoms that seem consistent with CRPS? Get in touch right away. The sooner treatment starts, the more relief you will be able to find.