Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), previously called “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy,” “causalgia,” or “RSD,” is a chronic pain condition that is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems.

Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling. Eventually the joints become stiff from disuse, and the skin, muscles, and bone atrophy.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CRPS?

The key symptom of CRPS is continuous, intense pain disproportionate to the severity of the injury which gets worse rather than better over time. CRPS most often affects one of the extremities (arms, legs, hands, or feet). CRPS has 3 stages, although often CRPS does not follow the exact progression. Some people go into the later stages almost immediately while others may always remain in Stage 1.

– Stage 1 –

    (lasts 1-3 months)

  • Severe burning, aching pain increasing with the slightest touch or breeze
  • Swelling with warmth or coolness
  • Skin becomes dry and thin, changes color
  • Increased nail and hair growth
  • Pain may move further up or down the affected limb

– Stage 2 –

    (lasts 3-6 months)

  • Swelling spreads
  • Noticeable changes in skin texture and color
  • Decreased hair growth
  • Changes in bone seen in X-rays
  • Stiff muscles and joints

– Stage 3 –

    (irreversible changes become evident)

  • Pain may exist in the entire limb
  • Permanent tissue changes
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Limited mobility in limb
  • Contractions involving muscles and tendons

WHAT CAUSES CRPS?

Physicians are not sure what causes CRPS. Many times CRPS develops after a wide variety of tissue injuries, including bone fractures and crushing injuries often experienced in severe automobile, motorcycle, and 18-wheeler accidents. However, CRPS can also occur after minor injuries, including soft tissue injuries occurring in auto-pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and other injury claims.

HOW IS CRPS DIAGNOSED?

CRPS is diagnosed primarily through observation of the signs and symptoms. But because many other conditions have similar symptoms, it can be difficult for doctors to make a firm diagnosis of CRPS early in the course of the disorder when symptoms are few or mild. Some physicians apply a stimulus (such as touch, pinprick, heat, or cold) to the area to see if it causes pain. Doctors may also use triple-phase bone scans to identify changes in the bone and in blood circulation.

HOW IS CRPS TREATED?

Because there is no cure for CRPS, treatment is aimed at relieving painful symptoms so that people can resume their normal lives. The following treatments are often used: physical therapy; psychotherapy; sympathetic nerve block; medications; surgical sympathectomy; spinal cord stimulation; and intrathecal drug pumps.

CONSULT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY PROFICIENT IN CRPS LITIGATION

The attorneys at Joel A. Gordon & Associates are familiar with CRPS and understand the complexity of the medical condition and its devastating effect on the human body. Practicing law since 1993, our personal injury lawyers have successfully resolved many injury claims with favorable results. If you are suffering from CRPS because of any injury, then we encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation.

Don’t Delay! Call Us Now Before Time Runs Out!

If you have been injured during an accident and are experiencing symptoms you believe may be related to CRPS as described above, please contact the Houston law firm of Joel A. Gordon & Associates as soon as possible for a free consultation. This is an excellent way for you to learn how we may be able to help you with medical relief as well as financial compensation.