Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Once known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, now referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), this nerve-associated pain syndrome can happen after an injury as simple as an ankle sprain. Clinically, although it is rare, we have seen it after surgeries. The hands are the most common sites, followed by knees, feet and ankles. Symptoms can be excruciating and constant and any sensation is felt as pain. The brain no longer can distinguish between soft, cold, pressure etc. It all feels like agonizing burning. Early diagnostics look for a triad of symptoms: swelling, abnormal sweating in the region of pain and diminished muscle strength.

Early mobilization to the limb in physical therapy is key to favorable outcomes. In one case in our clinic a specialized type of taping (kinesio-taping) was beneficial. The physicians will use anti-inflammatories, nerve blocks and medications that affect the sympathetic nervous system. Psychological support is critical. If diagnosis and intervention occur within the first 2 months of onset, the prognosis for CRPS is generally good. This is not a common problem, but if you are having pain that seems inordinately intense from an injury or surgery, get back to your doctor for further diagnostics.

Free 15 minute consultation regarding your injuries, by appointment. 992-4995


Information taken from: Advance for Directors in Rehabilitation, Nov. 2007.

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