Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a progressive disease that affects the sympathetic nervous system. Formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), CRPS is a painful disease that is characterized by constant, intense pain at the site of injury. In many cases, this pain is accompanied by swelling, changes in the skin and sensitivity. While it can occur anywhere in the body, it usually affects one or more of the four limbs (legs and arms). In 70 percent of patients, CRPS spreads to areas outside of the original area.

This chronic condition leads to a persistent burning pain and swelling in the arms, legs, hands, or feet and happens when the body’s pain receptors give pain messages to the brain. People with CRPS experience nerve ‘impulses’, which travel through the sympathetic nervous system to the source of injury. When this happens, the body’s inflammatory response is triggered, causing blood vessels to expand and the damaged tissues to swell and become red. When most people sustain an injury or wound, the redness and pain will eventually dissipate and go away altogether. However, those with CRPS will continue to experience pain and swelling and the wound may never heal.

Symptoms of CRPS

Some of the most common symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Persistent burning or throbbing pain in the arm, leg, hand, or foot
  • Sensitivity to the cold or touch
  • Swelling
  • Skin alternates between sweaty and cold
  • Joint stiffness
  • Decreased mobility in the affected area
  • Muscle spasms or tremors
  • Insomnia and emotional disturbance

Please keep in mind that this is just a short list of common symptoms associated with CRPS. There are many additional symptoms that may occur as the disease progresses, which is why it is so important to schedule an appointment with a specialist as soon as you notice any of the unusual symptoms.

Types of CRPS

There are two common types of CRPS that must be distinguished from one another

  • CRPS Type 1 - Individuals with type 1 usually develop the disease as a result of illness or injury, but do not have any nerve damage.
  • CRPS Type 2 - This type of CRPS is linked to nerve injury.

CRPS is treated at our pain management clinics through a wide range of therapies and treatments, including nerve blocks, physical therapy, implantation of a pain-controlling device, and medication in some cases. To learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of CRPS, please schedule an appointment with a specialist at one of our locations in Dallas, Allen, Flower Mound, Frisco, or McKinney. We are here to answer any questions you may have and help you find relief for this disease.