If complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is identified and treated early, the chances of a positive prognosis for the patient increase significantly. The ideal time for treatment to begin is within the first 3 months; in many cases, however, patients have not yet been diagnosed within this timeframe. The longer treatment is delayed, the worse the outcome will likely be.
Johns Hopkins Hospital has administered studies on sufferers of CRPS, one of which reports that 77% of people suffering from either reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or causalgia show the pain spreading outside of the original site. The spread of the affected region is often accompanied by flare-ups in other areas throughout the body.
If the disorder is allowed to progress untreated for too long, the consequences may be irreversible. CRPS can quickly spread from an extremity to negatively affect the entire limb. If this happens, the limb may experience bone degradation and nerve damage over time, as well as structural damage to muscles and tendons.
The swelling and stiffness of joints and tissue will cause limited mobility, making it difficult for a sufferer to exercise the affected limb at all. The affected muscle groups will weaken over time and will atrophy if not exercised properly. Atrophied limbs or those that suffer from complete disuse over time may require amputation for the health of the patient.
If CRPS is diagnosed early and treatment begins as soon as possible, however, there is a chance that the disorder may go into remission. With treatment, a sufferer may experience as many as 5 years of remission or more before the effects of CRPS return. Sadly, there is no cure for RSD or causalgia, and while the symptoms may be pushed back for a time, they do return.
It is possible to live a normal life after being diagnosed with CRPS, but certain things will have to change. The sufferer must understand his or her limits and be attuned to the demands being made of his or her system. Otherwise, it is best to maintain normal daily activities as much as possible, interrupted only by regular treatments. Hobbies should by no means be ignored, but rather embraced, for the sufferer’s peace of mind and emotional well-being.
Some famous sufferers of CRPS include Rachel Morris and Danielle Brown, two British Paralympic athletes, author and motivational speaker Barby Ingle, and American singer and TV personality Paula Abdul. Despite their difficulties and the struggles they continue to face as sufferers of RSD or causalgia, they have been able to live normal, and in some cases rather extraordinary, lives.
The key to having a good prognosis with CRPS is to continue treatment and not give up. The temptation to give in to extraordinary pain and let the affected limbs simply waste away is strong, but the way to living an active lifestyle with the debilitating pain of CRPS has already been paved. The research into CRPS is inspired and ongoing, so that eventually a cure might be found.
Also, filing a California CRPS lawsuit can help ease the financial burden that treatment and living with complex regional pain syndrome can have.