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Coping With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Following a Traumatic Accident

Middle-aged man winces in painAlso known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare, chronic neuro-inflammatory disorder that affects up to 200,000 people a year. The condition is a complication of a severe injury that causes excruciating pain in the extremities. CRPS manifests as a sensation of over-stimulated pain which is not comparable to the pain you should feel after an accident or injury.

Some physicians may wrongfully diagnose CRPS as psychosomatic, believing that the patient is exaggerating the pain. However, it is a very real and very painful disorder that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Causes and Types

CRPS occurs as the result of misfiring between the nervous system and the immune system. This malfunction causes the damaged tissue to send severe and constant pain signals to the brain. As a result, your brain may interpret a bruised muscle, as an agonizing crush injury, or a broken bone as a severe muscle shredding.

Although the specific cause relating to the hypersensitivity of nerves is unclear, CRPS is known to occur following traumatic musculoskeletal, nerve, and immobilization injuries. Unfortunately, these types of injuries are far too common in everyday life. Car accidents, work-related traumas (specifically maritime, shipyard, and construction injuries), and surgeries are all precursors to developing CRPS. In addition to the cause of the initial injury, common triggers of the condition include nerve pain that stems from fractures, sprains, strains, and soft tissue injuries.

There are two specific types of CRPS each with its own complications.

  • Type 1. CRPS type 1 occurs after an illness or injury that failed to directly damage the nerves where the pain originates. For example, you may have crushed your hand in a machine, but the excruciating pain you feel may be located in your back or neck as a result of misfiring nerves. Type 1 afflicts about 90 percent of the people who suffer from CRPS.
  • Type 2. CRPS type 2, also referred to as causalgia, is more straightforward than type 1 and occurs at the spot of the distinct nerve injury, rather than causing pain throughout the extremities.

Both types of CRPS can progress rapidly if not diagnosed and treated in their early stages. Complications of the disorder include:

  • Atrophy. The pain of the disorder can cause you to avoid moving and stretching your limbs. Unfortunately, limited mobility can cause your muscles and bones to weaken and deteriorate (atrophy), leading to more stiffness and more complications, including blood clots and additional nerve damage.
  • Muscle contracture. When you fail to stretch and move your muscles, they can begin to contract into themselves and tighten. Besides the pain and stiffness this can cause, it can lead to a deformity of the hands, fingers, feet, and toes as they contract into a fixed position.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As mentioned before, CRPS has been known to be misdiagnosed as a mental condition, which can severely inhibit proper and timely treatment. If detected early, treatment for complex regional pain syndrome can be very effective and lead to remission through the following:

  • Physical therapy. Keeping the affected areas mobile, while increasing blood circulation can go a long way in helping easing nerve pain. Furthermore, exercise can improve flexibility, strength, and function of the affected limb to prevent further complications.
  • Psychotherapy. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and financial worries are often secondary symptoms of CRPS, which can also exacerbate the pain. However, by treating these secondary conditions, patients can learn to understand and cope with their condition on their own terms.
  • Pain medications. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve a pain medication specifically for CRPS. However, your doctor may be able to prescribe a combination of drugs that can help ease the pain, quiet the nerve receptors, and make you a bit more comfortable.

CRPS is not something to take lightly. It can affect all aspects of your life, including work, play, and your financial well-being. If you’re suffering from CRPS as a result of a catastrophic accident, whether from a car or truck collision, work-related trauma, or maritime accident, you need someone to help you protect your rights. That someone is Steve Lee.

With over 25 years’ worth of experience helping victims of personal injuries, Steve Lee has the resources and drive to help you build a strong claim. Contact him today to set up a no-obligation case review. Trust us; you won’t regret it.


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