FAQ\’s on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS, which simply means Complex Regional pain Syndrome, was formerly known as the reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a progressive disease, which attacks the Autonomic nervous system specifically the sympathetic Nervous system. It is a persistent pain which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to the affected site.
The condition often affects one limb (arms, legs) often after a damage or strain to that limb. CPRS develops after damage or the malfunctioning of the peripheral and central nervous system.
Who can Get CRPS?
Anyone can get CRPS. It affects both men and women regardless of their age although research has shown that it is common on women. The CRPS also commonly affects individuals in the age bracket of about 40 years, rare in the elderly and infants between the ages5-10years.
What are symptoms of CRPS?
The most common symptoms are prolonged pain that is constant and it is severe or extremely disturbing in some people. The pain feels like a burning, or commonly as pins and needles piercing one’s flesh. The pain also feels as if one is squeezing the affected limb. The pain might spread to affect the whole arm or leg, even though the injury might have been only at the finger. The sensitivity is heightened close to the affected area that even a light tough or slight contact can cause enormous pain.
Patients suffering from CRPS experience constant changes in the temperature, swelling of the affected limb, and change of the patient’s skin color. The skin of the affected limb may change color becoming blotchy, blue, pale, or red. The affected arm also might feel warmer or cooler in comparison to the affected limb. The temperature changes are because of the abnormal microcirculations, which may have resulted after the nerves controlling blood flow, and temperature are damaged.
Other symptoms may include:
– Changes in skin texture or the skin may appear shiny on the affected area
– Abnormal sweating patterns on the affected area, changes in nails and growth patterns and stiffness in the joints that are affected.
– Decrease in the ability to move of the affected body parts due to problems in coordinating muscle movement.
– Abnormal movements of the affected limbs, such as tremors or jerking of the affected limb is often experienced.
How is CPRS diagnosed and treated?
At present, there is no single diagnostic test to confirm that one is suffering from the disease. The diagnosis is specifically based on the history of the affected person’s medical records having the symptoms and signs that matches those of CPRS. Magnetic resonance imaging can be used to identify CPRS characteristic changes in the bone metabolism. The disease is associated with excessive bone resorption, which is a process that leads to breaking of certain bone cells releasing calcium to blood.
The outlined therapies can be used to treat the condition
Rehabilitation therapy: This is a program to keep the limb or the body part that is experiencing the pain moving, to improve blood flow, and reduce circulatory symptoms. The exercise also helps to improve the flexibility and strength of the affected area.
Psychotherapy: often people with CPRS develop depression, posttraumatic stress disorder that increases their perception of pain thus making rehabilitation efforts a bit difficult. Psychotherapy helps in treating these secondary conditions helping the patient to recover from the disease more quickly.
Medications: This includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to cure moderate pain, botulinum toxic injections, opioids including the morphine and oxycontin. Nasal calcitonin is used for deep bone pain, corticosteroids that treat edema and swelling, and anesthetic creams are used.