CRPS is a condition that causes extreme pain, especially in the limbs. While it is best diagnosed by a medical practitioner, knowledge of the condition is also necessary. Many people suffer from chronic pain without seeking help, whether it’s because they don’t know it’s a treatable condition or because they’ve gotten used to the pain.
What Is CRPS?
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a very intense level of pain that mainly affects a person’s legs or arms. CRPS often begins after a stroke, a heart attack, surgery, or an intense injury. The pain felt with CRPS is usually out of proportion to the severity of the injury. CRPS is also referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).
There are several types of CRPS, Type I and Type II and their symptoms and treatments are similar. CRPS symptoms can vary depending on the area of the body where the pain occurs. Different people experience different CRPS symptoms. For instance, some people show no visible symptoms, only signs of internal pain.
Symptoms of CRPS
Symptoms of CRPS include:
- Pain inconsistent with the causative injury
- Very low body temperatures (sometimes as cold as 95°)
- Constant stabbing and burning sensation, with intense bone aches
- Asymmetric body temperatures. Some areas of the skin can feel cold and other areas can feel hot.
- The originating area feels like it is being electrocuted
- Severe muscle contraction, pain, cramps, atrophy, knots, and spasms
- Difficulty in controlling range of motion, often known as “restless leg syndrome“
- Skin blotchiness and discoloration.
- Sometimes, there is cracking or yellowing of the fingernails. Tiny red dots can start to form over the limb area affected by CRPS coupled with intense formication and itching. A person can also experience hair loss and hair growth in odd places.
A person with CRPS may feel pain at the slightest stimuli. This can often include something as little as the bedsheet touching the skin or the splash of water during showers. Symptoms of CRPS can change over time. The first noticeable symptoms are usually redness, swelling, noticeable changes in temperature, intense pain, and hypersensitivity.
With time, the affected area can start to get cold and pale. Skin changes, tightening, and muscle spasms may also start to occur. Once this happens, CRPS can become challenging to manage.
CRPS can sometimes spread from its originating area to other areas of a person’s body. Some people find out that the signs and symptoms go away on their own while they may persist in other people for years.
Treatment for CRPS is most likely to be effective when it is started at the early stages of the onset of the condition.
What Causes CRPS?
CRPS causes are not exactly known. It is often thought to be a result of dysfunction in the central nervous and peripheral systems. CRPS is often an after-effect of an injury. It occurs in two forms with similar symptoms, but different causes.
This is called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). It occurs after a patient suffers an injury that did not directly damage the nerves in that area of their body.
Also called causalgia, it has symptoms similar to that of type 1. But a person experiences causalgia after a specific nerve injury has occurred.
The reason these injuries trigger CRPS is not fully understood. Not everyone who has had surgery, pain, or fracture, goes on to develop CRPS. Often, the condition can be a result of the interaction between the peripheral nervous and central systems.
Can You Prevent CRPS?
There are certain measures you can take to lower the risk of experiencing the condition. They include:
Early Mobilization After Suffering a Stroke
Getting out of bed and walking around soon after recovering from a stroke can reduce the risk of CRPS onset.
Taking Vitamin C After A Fracture
Taking vitamin C when you develop a fracture can help lower your chances of getting CRPS compared to when you don’t.
CRPS can be debilitating because of the intense pain and discomfort it causes. There are, however, treatments for CRPS, and early diagnosis can make the treatment more effective.
Ketamine infusion therapy is a treatment method that offers promising results for CRPS. Patients can even experience quick and significant reduction in symptoms they experience.
With ketamine infusion therapy, we help ensure that every patient receives adequate care and fully understands their infusion process.