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What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Each year in the United States, approximately 200,000 people are affected by complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which can be a painful and debilitating condition. Since CRPS involves your nerve health, treatments can be tricky, but by no means impossible.

At Peak Spine & Sports Medicine, Drs. Jill Kalariya and Milind Patel place great emphasis on patient education, which is why we want to take this opportunity to discuss complex regional pain syndrome.

In the following, we explore what CRPS is, how it develops, the common symptoms, and, most importantly, how we can help you find relief.

CRPS basics

As the name implies, complex regional pain syndrome is a disorder that can lead to considerable pain and, not to mention, the condition is quite complex. At its core, CRPS is inflammation in your nerves that causes them to malfunction, leading to prolonged and disproportionate pain, typically in one of your limbs. For example, even a light touch upon your skin can trigger your peripheral C-fiber nerve fibers to send excessive pain messaging to your brain.

Although the exact mechanism behind CRPS still isn’t known, what we do know is this:

Researchers believe that the initial damage to your peripheral nerves causes them to become hyperactive and hypersensitive, especially as they regenerate.

Thankfully, most cases of CRPS do get better as the nerves regrow, though it can take weeks or months. For the unfortunate few, CRPS can become chronic and last for years.

Symptoms of CRPS

Though the primary symptom of CRPS is pain, it bears diving a little deeper into this side effect as it can present itself in myriad ways.

For example, the discomfort that develops in your arm or leg may feel like a burning sensation, or it may present as pins and needles. The pain often spreads throughout the limb (well outside the original site of the nerve damage) and can mirror on the opposite limb, though this doesn’t happen frequently.

You may also experience lingering pain after any contact with your skin, even a light touch.

Outside of pain, other symptoms may develop, including:

These symptoms aren’t always a part of CRPS, but the longer the condition endures, the more at risk you are of developing them.

Treating CRPS

As we mentioned, most people with CRPS do get better, and our job is to keep you comfortable as your nerves regrow.

In most cases, we typically recommend one of more of the following treatments, depending upon the severity of your discomfort:

The bottom line is that CRPS often responds best to a multi-pronged approach, and we work diligently to find the best combination for your goals.

If you have more questions about CRPS, we invite you to contact our office in Marlton, New Jersey, to set up an appointment.

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