The Real Deal behind Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Have you ever heard of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? I only knew about it when I was diagnosed with that condition. It started when I broke my foot.

The actual cause of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS is unknown but it is related to the sympathetic nervous system. This system includes the areas along the spinal cord. It also controls the opening and the closing of your blood vessels and sweat glands. CRPS also goes by the following names: Causalgia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome or RDDS, Sudeck’s Atrophy and Shoulder-hand syndrome. As for the last one, it does hit the shoulders and the hands as well as the feet.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is the result of injuries to the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Even a minor thing like a sprain can cause CRPS. However, an estimated 25% of people with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome did not have injuries as their causes.

There are many questions inside my head. What exactly are the symptoms and how can CRPS be diagnosed? Can it be treated and is it curable? Here are some answers together with some important information that were gathered by the Arthritis Foundation.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome has 3 overlapping stages in the onset of its course.

The first stage occurs when the specific area becomes painful and tender and also when it begins to swell. You begin to see changes in the skin of the affected area. In my case, it turned purple. Other report sweating, abnormal hair and nail growth plus stiffness.

There is constant aching, burning, numbness and tingling for the second stage. These can happen because the weather changed or even the changes in texture and movements of your clothes. As for my condition, my nails became brittle and my skin turned waxy. X-ray results revealed that the bones became thinner. I am also suffering from muscle spasms.

Stage three occurs when there are permanent changes. Your joints and limb functions are derailed.

Doctors mentioned that due to my rheumatoid arthritis, CRPS happened to me. Due to the accident where my foot had to be in a cast that bore weight, the nerve endings reacted negatively.

Just like any other syndromes, early prevention is the key for complete recovery. I saw an orthopedic specialist but he wrongly assumed that all I needed was just to regain mobility. I still had painful muscle spasms every day and every night. It was a burning pain that runs through my knees and down to my legs.

I told my doctor about all these during our regular appointments. He consulted with the head podiatrist. Physical Therapy was also in his list for me. I had to take prednisone for a month to reduce the pain as it slows down the recovery time.

I learned that CRPS is not curable. It is only with careful prevention that one can lessen the risk of permanent damage. For some people, recovery from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is possible. There are still unlucky ones who do not recover at all.

What are the treatments available? The list includes pain killers, physical therapy, muscle relaxants and even steroid-use. For the sever cases of CRPS, there is the use of TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator unit. This gadget relieves pain by blocking nerve impulses.

Follow your program religiously. This means regular medication intake and doing the required exercises. Hopefully, by doing these methods, you can lead a normal and functional life.