Complex Regional Pain Syndrome- symptoms and treatment

You're reading Complex Regional Pain Syndrome- symptoms and treatment, posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 2:56 am in Healthcare, on BrainBloggers at the Stay Healthy blog. More after the jump.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a very rare and painful nerve disorder. Most doctors are unable to diagnose the disease right away and at times, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome has some dubious theories backing it up.

The disease Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a rare nerve disorder. It’s symptoms usually causes intense pain and the affected areas may be hands, arms, legs and feet. It usually happens after a serious injury to the tissue or nerve of the affected areas. The disorder is also called Causalgia. The cause responsible for the disorder is unknown. The pain often spreads to the entire arm or leg. Some of the changes observed in the affected areas post the disorder are dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin of the affected limb. Other symptoms also include skin sensitivity, intene burning pain, swelling and sweating. Although there are some theories behind the cause of this disorder, the authenticity of these theories are questionable. One theory is the cause behind the sustainance of the pain may be the sympathetic nervous system. The other speculation is the CPRS is caused by the triggering of the immune response which leads to the inflammation in the affected area.

The various symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome are listed as below:

  • A burning, painful pain in the affected region (usually an arm, leg, hand oe foot)
  • Change in skin color (may turn red, blue or white)
  • The affected area may be sensitive to touch, temperature
  • Change in skin texture (either too thin or shiny)
  • Loss of movement in affected areas
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Although it is a rare disorder, most doctors are familiar with it. The doctor will make a diagnose on the basis of a physical exam and the pain symptoms. The above symptoms will help the doctor make a correct diagnosis. Although, the disease is diagnosable, there is no one single test to determine Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. For instance, the doctor may take a test to check the skin temperature and the amount of blood circulation to a particular area. In case the diagnose is doubtful, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help determine CRPS.

There are two kinds of CRPS which have completely different causes. They are listed as follows:

  1. Type one CRPS- This disorder is triggered by injuries such as ankles which are fractured or sprained. There is usually minimal nerve damage.
  2. Type two CRPS- This type of disorder is caused by more serious injuries where there has been nerve damage such as an operation, a serious infection or a broken bone.

Although the disorder is rare, but it is not completely eradicated. Putting a number is hard, the estimate change from country to country. Some countries have 1 affected in 18,000 whereas others have 1 in 4000. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is more common amongst women and people between the ages of 50 to 70.

There is solution for the disorder. Doctors usually recommend sympathetic block. This usually involves an injection of anaesthesia which obstructs the pain signals. Physiotherapy and counselling may help at times.

If the disorder is diagnosed early regular treatments may help keeping the pain from recurring. But if it is diagnosed later or if the symptoms are severe, the patients may not respond to treatments.