Thankfully, regional complex pain syndrome isn’t all that common — the National Council for Rare Disorders estimates about 200,000 cases annually in the United States. We’re grateful that this disorder is rare because complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can lead to moderate to severe discomfort that can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
To help you better understand this complicated disorder, the team here at Spinal Diagnostics thought it would be helpful to pull together a primer on complex regional pain syndrome.
Here, we take a closer look at the signs of CRPS, what may cause the disorder, and how we can bring you relief.
CRPS is a neurological disorder in which you sense pain more strongly and for much longer than you should. There are generally two types of CRPS — CRPS type I and CRPS type II. There are no identifiable signs of nerve damage or lesions that could be causing the discomfort with type I, yet this type of CRPS comprises 90% of all diagnoses. With type II, we’re able to identify the nerve damage and the source of your pain.
Since there are no visible signs of nerve damage with CRPS type I, there remains some mystery surrounding the cause of the disorder. As well, CRPS develops three to four times more in women than men.
What we do know is that CRPS most often develops after an injury, surgery, or trauma, especially in a limb. Long after the initial trauma heals, however, CRPS causes continuing and exaggerated pain in the affected limb.
While we don’t know the exact cause of this dysfunction in your nervous system, researchers believe it has to do with system-wide inflammation, inflammation in your nerves, and changes in the way your central nervous system perceives and processes pain.
We’ve referenced pain quite a bit when discussing CRPS, and this is the primary complaint. This pain can strike without warning and is often described as a shooting sensation, a squeezing sensation, or a deep ache. Over time, the pain can become more constant and spread.
Another primary complaint is extreme sensitivity to touch. For example, if someone merely brushes your leg, your nerves respond in a way that suggests they were greatly harmed.
Other signs of CRPS include:
- Changes in color, temperature, and texture of your skin
- Abnormal sweating or hair growth near the affected area
- Diminished muscle strength
- Muscle tremors
These symptoms tend to develop gradually as a result of the nerve malfunction.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we describe above, we urge you to come in for a comprehensive evaluation. If we find evidence of CRPS, we offer several pain management treatment options that can help relieve the discomfort, including:
We also find that relaxation techniques, as well as psychotherapy, can help significantly with CRPS.
If you have more questions about diagnosing or treating complex regional pain syndrome, please contact one of our locations in Tualatin or Newberg, Oregon.