Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that typically affects one limb — usually the hand, arm, foot, or leg — after an injury to that area. While the exact cause is unknown, CRPS is believed to develop when either the peripheral or central nervous system malfunctions.
Your central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord while your peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves that control your organs, muscles, and sensations in your skin like pain, temperature, and pressure.
With CRPS, your peripheral nervous system sends abnormal pain signals to your central nervous system and your brain responds by altering the function of your peripheral nervous system.
Most of the symptoms caused by CRPS are a result of the abnormal responses of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Common signs of CRPS include:
- Severe pain that can be constant
- Sensations of burning, stinging, or squeezing
- Skin that appears shiny and thin
- Abnormal sweating patterns in the affected limb
- Changes to your nail or hair growth in the affected limb
- Joint stiffness
- Decreased range of motion or lack of coordination
- Abnormal movement of the limb like tremors or jerking
In some cases, pain can spread from a small area to include the entire hand, arm, foot, or leg. Pain can also spread to the opposite arm or leg on the other side of your body.
There isn’t a specific test for CRPS, so it is considered a diagnosis of exclusion. As pain medicine specialists, the team at Spinal Diagnostics has extensive training in diagnosing chronic pain conditions like CRPS and provides testing, including blood work, X-rays, and MRI, to rule out other possible causes of your pain before determining your diagnosis.
Once you are diagnosed with CRPS, the team provides treatments to relieve your pain, including:
- Prescription medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, steroid injections, and lidocaine patches or creams
- Sympathetic nerve blocks
- Surgical sympathectomy
- Spinal cord stimulation
- DRG stimulation
One or more of these therapies can be used to address your symptoms and help you regain your quality of life.
If you have the symptoms of CRPS, schedule a consultation at Spinal Diagnostics now by calling or booking an appointment online.