Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is a condition that affects the nervous system and its symptoms can often be visualized through the skin. This condition is characterized by severe pain, skin discoloration, swelling and temperature changes, skin atrophy, sensitivity to touch, stiff joints and increased sweating just to mention a few.
Though the changes on the skin initially affect the legs or arms, the condition spreads fast. CRPS is associated with abnormalities in the central nervous system and the condition is mainly triggered by injury or trauma. The common triggers of CRPS include soft tissue damage from cuts, burns or bruises, fractures and sprains amongst others.
This may include a work injury from a fall. For example, if a federal employee postal worker trips and falls and ends up with a significant knee sprain, there is a small chance RSD may result. Workers compensation doctors have numerous treatment options to help resolve the pain from RSD and CRPS.
Pain Management of RSD and CRPS
CRPS is a difficult condition to treat and this is because its cause is largely unknown. However, you can get relief from the severe pain and below we have a few treatment options that could work for you.
Different medications are used in CRPS pain management. However, it’s important that we point out that the FDA has yet to approve any drug specifically made for CRPS. That said, the medications provided are generally safe and have effectively helped many patients suffering from CRPS.
Some of the medications given to CRPS patients include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and these drugs help in relieving moderate CRPS pain. Topical creams and skin patches are also applied for pain relief. For people suffering from severe bone pain, nasal calcitonin may be recommended or opioids. Corticosteroids are also used to reduce inflammation and edema during the early stages of the CRPS.
Psychotherapy is recommended and this is because stress and anxiety has been known to heighten pain. CRPS patients could develop bouts of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disorders that could make rehabilitation difficult.
For those patients with RSD, physical therapy may not be possible in the traditional sense due to pain. However, it may be possible to have the therapists perform some desensitization therapy, along with delicate range of motion.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation is now being used a lot in pain management. Spinal cord stimulators intercept pain signals before reaching the brain hence giving the patient pain relief.
These are placed as an outpatient procedure and send signals around the spinal cord to alter the way the brain perceives pain. It doesn’t fix the problem but can mask pain very well.
Just like spinal stimulation, neural stimulation delivers pulses that help reduce the pain levels. These nerve stimulators are placed near the injured peripheral nerves and can also be placed within the brain to provide deep brain stimulation. The advantage of stimulators is that they give the patient a chance to get treatment without necessarily undoing surgery.
CRPS has no known cure or specific medication, but there are are plenty of treatment options that you can try out and they have effectively treated many CRPS patients.