Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a debilitating disease that causes excruciating pain and can eventually result in loss of function of limbs. However, early treatment of CRPS can drastically improve symptoms and possibly put the disease into remission. The best way to treat CRPS has shown to be a combination of drug and physical treatments, as well as changes in diet and exercise habits.
Medications to Treat CRPS
The purpose of treating CRPS using drug therapy is to alleviate some of the pain or emotional distress of the disease in order to allow the patient to participate in physical therapy and resume normal habits. CRPS is a disease that is highly individualized, so the treatment must be tailored to each case.
For this reason, there are many different kinds of medications used to treat the disease. Physicians must carefully monitor the patient once the drug therapy has started to ensure that the treatment is effective.
Anticonvulsants may also be referred to as antiepileptic drugs. Some anticonvulsants will help to suppress neuron activity associated with the pain and sensitivity of CRPS. Anticonvulsants used to treat CRPS include Lyrica, Neurontin, Tegretol, and Topomax.
Certain antidepressants have been effective in helping to treat the pain of CRPS. Not only does the antidepressant help the patient to deal with the emotional trauma of living in constant pain, sometimes the antidepressant will also relieve some of the aches associated with the disease, and help the patient sleep better.
Antidepressants used to treat CRPS include:
Antispasmodics and Muscle Relaxants
Muscle spasms are common with CRPS, so antispasmodics and muscle relaxants may help to stop this symptom before it becomes overly painful or begins to affect limb function. Antispasmodics and muscle relaxants prescribed include Zanalfex, Clonazepam, Baclofen, Soma, and Flexeril.
Bone Loss Medication
Doctors may prescribe bone loss medication, such as Miacalcin or Fosamax, to prevent bone loss before it starts. Bone loss medication may also be used to stall CRPS bone loss, if it has already begun.
Inflammation may be reduced with the use of a steroid drug. Prednisone is the most commonly prescribed corticosteroid to treat CRPS, and may also help improve limb mobility and function. Since prednisone does not offer pain relief, this is usually prescribed in addition to other medications.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown to be effective in treating both the pain and inflammation of CRPS. Commonly prescribed NSAIDs include Celebrex and Feldine. It is important to understand that NSAIDs have not been consistently effective for treating neuropathic pain during CRPS studies.
Sympathetic Nerve Blocking Medication
Sympathetic nerve blocking medication may be prescribed as an anesthetic to prevent the nerves from reacting with the pain sensations associated with CRPS. This type of nerve blocking medication can be an important part of CRPS treatment because sympathetic nerves control involuntary body functions, such as the expanding or narrowing of the patient’s blood vessels.
Many kinds of pain relievers have been effective in helping to relieve symptoms of CRPS. Over-the counter pain relievers include aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. If the over-the-counter dosage of these medications shows to be ineffective, doctors can prescribe slightly stronger prescription varieties of these drugs.
Narcotics prevent pain receptors from sending signals to the brain. This can help to reduce pain symptoms of CRPS. Doctors will often prescribe variations of these drugs that are time released throughout the day. This helps patients to experience pain relief throughout the day, and assists as a sleep aid at night.
Commonly prescribed narcotics for CRPS treatment include:
• MS Contin
Opiate Agonists have shown to be some of the most effective drugs in treating CRPS. However, recent changes in the formula of Opana and Oxycintin have reportedly lowered their effectiveness, as well as causing side effects that patients had not previously experienced. Opiate Agonists work by inhibiting pain receptors in the central nervous system, which dulls the acuity of pain. These include the aforementioned, as well as Morphine, the Fentanyl patch, and Hydrocodone.
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“Drug Therapies Typically Used for Treating CRPS.” American RSD Hope. American RSD Hope, n.d. Web.
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“Drug Treatment of CRPS.” PubMed.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 04 Mar 2010. Web. 20 Aug