There is some controversy surrounding the best CRPS treatment methods. The cause of CRPS is unknown, but most cases stem from an injury that causes damage to the central nervous system and manifests as a malfunction of the nervous system. Chronic and excruciating pain is the main symptom of CRPS, and it is believed that poor management of pain following a surgery or traumatic incident may be a contributing factor to the development CRPS. The controversy surrounding CRPS treatment stems from utilizing treatments that may cause harmful side effects, but may be effective for treating CRPS.
Controversy in CRPS Treatment Methods
The use of surgical sympathectomies in treating CRPS is controversial because the surgery destroys nerves in order to alleviate pain sensations. Opponents of the use of surgical sympathectomies believe that the procedure may eventually cause CRPS to worsen, and cite the damaging effects of destroying tissue that may be healthy. However, CRPS patients that are responsive to sympathetic nerve block treatments sometimes show improvement following surgical sympathectomies.
The use of ketamine infusion therapy to treat CRPS is also controversial. The premise behind using ketamine to treat CRPS is that ketamine manipulates certain receptors in the brain, which may help to correct abnormal activity of the brain that causes CRPS symptoms. Low-dose ketamine therapy, often called the “awake technique” has been used in the United States since about 2002 and has shown some effectiveness in treating CRPS.
The Coma Technique
Higher dose ketamine treatments, referred to as the “coma technique” are more controversial. During the “coma technique” patients are put into a medically induced coma for about five days, and must rely on the assistance of machines and medical professionals for bodily functions, including breathing. This risky procedure is not allowed in the United States, but has shown some degree of effectiveness with patients in other countries. Proponents of high dose ketamine therapy say that the coma state allows the patient’s brain to “reset”, which can correct the malfunctioning nervous system.
Effective CRPS Treatments
Most cases of CRPS that have shown improvement following treatment have been treated with a combination of medications and physical therapy. CRPS patients that have been recently diagnosed should explore less risky and controversial options for treatment of the condition prior to agreeing to more controversial treatment methods. If standard treatment methods are ineffective over a period of time, patients may wish to discuss options such as ketamine therapy and surgical sympathectomy.