Most patients see Dr. Nikesh Seth because of pain, and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is one of the most common conditions treated at Integrated Pain Consultants. CRPS is an umbrella term for a regional pain that’s chronic and usually affects a single limb post-injury. Chronic pain is defined as lasting longer than six months. It’s theorized that CRPS damages the peripheral and/or central nervous system, which causes the pain. The central nervous system encompasses the spine and brain while the peripheral nervous system is what sends signals from the brain through the spinal cord to other parts of the body.
CRPS sometimes includes symptoms of changes in skin temperature or color as well as swelling in the area of pain. There are two types of CRPS: I and II. If a patient has a known nerve injury, they will be classified with CRPS-I. In the past, this was dubbed reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. CRPS-II, or causalgia, is diagnosed if there’s a nerve injury that’s associated. However, sometimes the symptoms between the two can overlap, and a patient might be diagnosed with one or the other depending on the doctor. Regardless, treatments are very similar.
The degree of pain and duration can vary. Sometimes the pain dissipates by itself. Other times, it becomes long-term and disabling. Anyone can get CRPS, but it’s more typical in women. A person of any age can also get it, though the prime age is 40, and it’s very rare in the elderly and children age 10 and under. The major symptom is a prolonged, severe, and often constant pain. Commonly described as a “pins and needles” or burning sensation, patients will usually describe the pain as if the area was being squeezed.
It’s not always clear why some people develop CRPS when others that sustained a similar injury have no pain. However, in over 90 percent of CRPS cases, the pain is brought on by trauma or an injury including a fracture, burn, being in a cast, or surgery. If you have CRPS and are interested in alternative treatments, contact Integrated Pain Consultants today – 480-626-2552.