Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS is a chronic neurological syndrome characterized by severe burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch.
CRPS is best described in terms of an injury to a nerve or soft tissue (such as a broken bone) that does not follow the normal healing path.
There are two types of CRPS – Type I and Type II.
- CRPS Type I is also referred to as RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). Typically nerve injury is not immediately identified.
- CRPS Type II also referred to as causalgia. Typically these are cases in which there is a distinct or “major” nerve injury that has occurred.
CRPS can strike at any age and affects both men and women, although most experts agree that it is more common in young women.
Key symptoms of CRPS are continuous intense pain out of proportion 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).
The symptoms of CRPS very in severity and length however it most commonly excepted that there are three stages associated with CRPS with stage one lasting one to three months, stage two lasting three to six months, and stage three evolving into the point where changes in the skin and bone are no longer reversible.
Prognosis varies from person to person and at times spontaneous symptoms occur in certain people.
Early detection and early treatment are advised to aid in limiting the disorder.
Treatment can include a variety of options including referral to physical therapy for range of motion, sympathetic nerve block such as intravenous administration of sympathetic receptors, medications including topical analgesics that act locally on painful nerves and or referral to pain management for consideration of a pain medication pump.