Know These Warning Signs of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome can inflict pain long after you have had time to heal from a fracture or other injury. Find out how doctors treat this lingering pain.
Coping with pain from an injury or surgery is difficult enough when it first happens. But if you continue to feel pain — and the pain gets worse — after you’ve had time to heal, you may have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). And you’ll need help to cope with it.
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So, if the pain from your initial injury lingers longer than your doctor told you to expect, let him or her know right away.
Identifying the condition as quickly as possible can make it easier to manage discomfort and maintain your long-term quality of life, says pain management specialist Hersimren Basi, MD.
“With CRPS, you really need to push for early diagnosis and early treatment,” she says. “It makes intervention easier and more effective. You don’t want to lose range of motion of a limb.”
The good news is that there are effective techniques to help manage your pain, Dr. Basi says.
CRPS is a progressive disease that attacks the nervous system and causes pain following an injury, fracture or surgery. It typically affects arms or legs, but can show up in any part of the body.
The pain is usually stronger than what occurs with the original injury, Dr. Basi says. Identifying the condition is difficult because doctors must rule out other conditions first, she says.
If you have CRPS, you may notice these signs:
There are many symptoms doctors associate with CRPS. Here are some:
The best option for managing or relieving CRPS pain is physical therapy, Dr. Basi says.
A physical therapist will typically use desensitization and mirror therapy as two unique approaches specifically for CRPS.
Ultimately, Dr. Basi says, patient relief is what’s most important. “The goal with chronic pain, in general, is to help the patient become more functional,” she says. “And, we can do this by keeping them out of pain.”