CRPS, or complex regional pain syndrome, is a condition about which there is still much to discover. Ongoing CRPS research areas include causes, prevention, and treatment for the disease. Organizations such as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are at the forefront of ongoing CRPS research.
Ongoing CRPS Treatment Research
In 2008, The RSD / CRPS Treatment Center and Research Institute opened in Tampa, Florida. This is the first institution that is exclusively dedicated to ongoing CRPS research and treatment of the disease. The RSD/CRPS Treatment Center and Research Institute is invaluable for CRPS patients around the world, especially as other hospitals and treatment centers utilize the valuable CRPS information that is released.
Ketamine for CRPS Treatment
The RSD/CRPS Treatment Center and Research Institute provides some of the newest treatment methods for CRPS. One of the most effective treatments that has been found and is being tested is Ketamine. Ketamine is often given to patients intravenously over a three day period at the institute, but many physicians around the world have begun to give patients Ketamine treatments either on an outpatient basis or in high-dose or low-dose variations.
In a small study, patients that did not respond well to other forms of CRPS treatment were given immunoglobulin intravenously. The patients that were given the low doses of immunoglobulin reported decreased pain in the 14 days following the study. Continuing research on this treatment method on a larger scale is planned.
Ongoing Child CRPS Research
Children and adolescents with CRPS tend to have a higher recovery rate than adults. For this reason, children with CRPS are of particular interest to scientists studying CRPS. Scientists hope that by studying children that are being effectively treated for CRPS, a better understanding of the causes of the disease will emerge. Better treatment methods are also being researched in this way. Unfortunately, CRPS in children is something that many hospitals do not have the capacity to treat at this time.
Ongoing CRPS Causes Research
CRPS can be traced back to an injury or trauma that has caused nerve damage in about 90 percent of cases. These injuries are most commonly sprains, fractures, limb immobilization as with a cast, and punctures to the skin. While researchers have not discovered what causes CRPS to develop in some that have these injuries and not others, peripheral nerve abnormalities have been detected in CRPS patients that may help researchers discover a more definitive link between CRPS and the injury that triggered it.
Disinhibition of CNS
Over the past several years, researchers have determined that CRPS is characterized by a disinhibition between the central nervous system and the area of the body that is first affected by CRPS. Researchers noted that both sensory and motor functions were affected in the area of the brain corresponding to the area of the body that was affected by CRPS. This disinhibition was sometimes not limited to the area of the body that was directly affected by CRPS. In some cases, patients that complained of CRPS pain in one hand were found to have a disinhibition in the area of the brain that is responsible for sensory and motor function in the healthy hand as well as the affected hand.
CRPS Predisposition Research
While CRPS research has not definitely lead scientists or physicians to a marker for predisposition to CRPS, patients that exhibit brain changes that are characteristic of CRPS on both sides of the body after an injury to one side may be more likely to develop the condition. In other research efforts, links between genetic factors and trauma severity have been noted. Researchers have also noticed an association between bone-mineral density and CRPS symptoms in patients that have had a stroke.
“Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Jul 2011. Web. 7 Mar 2014. <http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reflex_sympathetic_dystrophy/detail_reflex_sympathetic_dystrophy.htm
“Ketamine and CRPS.” American RSD Hope. American RSD Hope, 01 Jan 2013. Web. 7 Mar 2014. <http://www.rsdhope.org/ketamine-and-crps.html>.
Kirkpatrick, Anthony. “Clinical Practice Guidelines.”International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS. International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS, n.d. Web. 7 Mar 2014.
“Unraveling the Mystery of CRPS.” Podiatry Today. 17.6 (2004): 36-42. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. <http://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/2672?page=1>.