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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome FAQs

Not much is known about complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The symptoms are understood well enough, but the physiological mechanics of the body which cause such symptoms are a mystery. In keeping with the relative mystery of the disorder, below are a list of frequently asked questions and their responses:

What does CRPS look like?

For most patients, the symptoms of CRPS are swelling, warmth, and redness of skin, sweating around the affected area, shiny and tender skin, and a throbbing pain. The most important sign of CRPS is the lack of any other possible causes for those symptoms.

How much does CRPS actually hurt?

According to the McGill Pain Index, a method used to measure pain since 1971, CRPS is the worst chronic pain a person can experience. It scores between a 42 and 45 out of a total possible 50. To put this in perspective, first time childbirth ranks at roughly 35 to 40, and a fracture ranks at around 17.

Will CRPS spread from where it began?

CRPS, if not treated as soon as diagnosed, can and almost certainly will spread. In fact, over 70% of CRPS cases include the spreading of the afflicted area beyond the initial site of injury.

Does CRPS cause sweating?

Excessive sweating is a common sign of CRPS, along with shiny and tender skin. The affected area will often feel overly warm, and measuring sweat is one way to diagnose CRPS.

How long does CRPS last?

There is no cure for CRPS. You will have the disorder for the rest of your life. However, it is possible (though rare) for CRPS to go into remission and for the symptoms to abate, at least for some period of time. There are also treatments available to help sufferers cope with the pain and live a normal lifestyle.

Will pain medication help?

There are drugs and medications that are prescribed as treatments for CRPS. These include antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and most opioids. For more information on what drugs might be best for you specifically, talk with a physician or medical professional.

Are there other treatments besides drugs?

There are many different types of physical therapy that have been used to treat sufferers of CRPS, including massages, contrast baths, weight progression exercises, and more. Another effective form of treatment is the use of spinal cord stimulation. This involves attaching electrodes to the spinal cord at the places which relate to the affected limbs or extremities.

Can you cut out CRPS?

CRPS is not a growth that can be removed like cancer. The condition affects the bones, muscles, nerves, and other tissue in the affected area. The painful limb can be amputated, and this may be necessary in cases of muscle atrophy. Some sufferers have the affected limb amputated in an attempt to eliminate the pain, but there is not enough research on the subject to determine whether or not this is effective.

If you or a family member have been affected by CRPS due to the negligence of another, or if you have questions or concerns regarding your rights, contact a California CRPS attorney today.


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