The main symptom of Complex regional pain syndrome is constant pain. Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a disease that doctors are learning more about every day. There is no specific cause that has been determined, but the catalyst in about ninety percent of cases is a minor injury. A bruise or scratch has been the original injury in rare cases, but usually it is a sprain or fracture that triggers the initial pain.
When a patient develops CRPS, the body overreacts to the injury. The central nervous system sends out more chemical messengers than necessary. This results in greater than normal pain for the type of injury.It also causes annoying, and sometimes debilitating, additional symptoms.
The disease acts like in allergy in this way. An issue that will cause little to no problem for most patients will cause serious adverse reactions in other patients. Doctors have yet to determine what distinguishes those that develop CRPS from those that do not. CRPS has occurred in family members, indicating the possibility of genetic predisposition.
Indications of CRPS
There is no test, at this time, which easily diagnoses CRPS. Doctors diagnose CRPS in patients by using a number of tests to ensure that the pain is not being caused by any other trigger (such as Lyme disease or a clotted vein), and identify additional symptoms. All of these symptoms can be attributed to the unnecessary immune response.
Symptoms of CRPS:
• Skin changes temperature
• Skin texture changes, most often becoming thin and shiny
• Color of skin changes, and may become red, blue, pale, or blotchy
• Swelling occurs
• There are mobility or motor skills control issues in the affected limb or area
• Increased hair and nail growth
In some CRPS cases, it is found that nerve fibers that are used to send pain signals to blood vessels are damaged. This damage causes a kind of short in the system, activating irregular responses in the brain and spinal cord. In some cases, this can lead to troubles with higher cortical function.
Blood Vessel Damage
Blood vessels in the affected limb may leak fluid or widen, causing the visible swelling and redness. This creates further problems by blocking the underlying tissue and muscle from receiving oxygen. In time, this will cause the muscle to atrophy, as well as damaging the joints and causing excessive pain.
The immune system is affected by CRPS, and patients’ tissue will show high levels of cytokines. Cytokinesare inflammatory chemicals released during an injury or infection, and may also contribute to the redness, swelling, and temperature increase experienced in the affected limb or area of those suffering from CRPS.
Treatments for CRPS
CRPS is a disease that affects patients in sometimes radically different ways, so each case must be treated with extensive individualization. In all cases, a mixture of physical therapy, emotional therapy,
and medication therapy is recommended.
Physical therapy usually involves stretching and strengthening exercises of the affected limb or area. This helps to circulate blood, and may improve function and mobility issues. In some cases, occupational therapy is required to help patients learn new ways to accomplish daily tasks.
Emotional therapy is essential for individuals coping with a constant daily pain condition. This helps patients deal with the emotional aspects of the disease. Patients often develop anxiety disorders or depression. This can make it even more difficult for other forms of treatment to take effect
Medication therapy can involve a range of different types of medication, depending on the case. These medications are mainly used to ease symptoms of CRPS.
Common CRPS treatment medications include:
• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• NMDA receptor antagonists
• Topical local anesthetic creams
“Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.” PubMed.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 9 Aug
“Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research,
12 Jul 2013. Web. 9 Aug 2013. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/complex-regional-painsyndrome/DS00265.