Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS) and Causalgia, is the most painful form of chronic pain that exists. CRPS is a disease affecting the Sympathetic Nervous System. The pain caused by the disease is constant, intense and out of proportion to the original injury. CRPS usually affects one of the four limbs, but it can occur in any area of the body. Over 70% of victims have pain spread to additional areas. There is no cure for CRPS, but treatment may help reduce the physical pain and help a person cope psychologically with the disorder. There are four main areas of treatment: education for self-management, physical rehabilitation, pan relief and psychological support.
Education for Self-Management
The patient must be advised about how to manage the pain. A medical caretaker should teach the patient techniques to help deal with increases in pain. The person with CRPS is encouraged to use the affected body area and to avoid peaks and dips in activity.
The goal of physical rehabilitation is to increase the person’s activity and function without increasing the pain. This is difficult to do because often any movement or stimulation of the damaged limb will cause pain and other symptoms of CRPS. Physical rehabilitation techniques include exercise, mirror visual feedback and desensitization.
There are no medications specifically made for CRPS. However, doctors may use different pain medications in an attempt to help reduce the pain. NSAIDS such as ibuprofen may reduce pain that is associated with CRPS such as muscle pain. However, NSAIDS will not reduce CRPS pain. Anticonvulsants are usually used to treat epilepsy, and tricyclic antidepressants were created to treat depression. However, they have been found effective in treating nerve pain in some individuals. Spinal cord stimulation is also sometimes used to treat patients with nerve pain. An electrical signal is sent to the spinal cord. The electrical signal may change how the person feels pain.
People with CRPS live with a painful condition for a long period of time. It is common for people living with CRPS to experience depression or anxiety. It is important for the person to have a support group to help him or her live with the pain. A psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist may help the patient cope with the depression or anxiety.
If you have developed CRPS as a result of an injury caused by the negligence of someone else, contact the O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation to learn about your rights regarding compensation.