Complex Regional Pain Syndromes

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? 

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. It causes significant discomfort, often becoming more severe as the condition progresses. CRPS can be excruciating and, in some cases, the condition can become irreversible once the symptoms progress.

What causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? 

The cause of CRPS is not well understood.  CRPS has been known to occur after surgery or a heart attack, but also after an injury. The onset of pain can occur immediately after a health problem or injury, or some time later. The pain can spread beyond the site of the initial injury and is out of proportion to the severity of the injury.

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome include: 

  • Continued throbbing or burning pain in extremities

  • Sensitivity to being touched or to cold

  • Swelling in the area affected

  • Stiffness and swelling in joints

  • Changes in skin colour, temperature, and texture

  • Changes in hair and nail growth in the affected area

  • Muscle spasms and tightening (contractures) 

  • Muscle weakness and atrophy

  • Inability or decreased ability to move the affected limb

  • Spreading of symptoms to other areas, usually to opposite arm or leg

Individuals dealing with CRPS may have significant difficulties with everyday functioning. These include: 

  • Academic difficulties, such as being unable to write or type due to severe pain in one or both hands

  • Inability to walk resulting in not working or loss of employment

  • Inability to leave the house due to pain in hands and/or feet resulting in social impairments or inability to interact with others

How we can help?

An individual with CRPS must receive a definite diagnosis in the first instance and make sure that the pain is not due to some other condition. This is crucial to reduce or eliminate the symptoms and to give the individual the best chance of ensuring that CRPS does not become permanent.

Functional Medicine and Nutrition Counselling can help us to understand whether there are any nutritional deficiencies that could be contributing to or exacerbating CRPS. The most effective treatments for CRPS are Biofeedback and Clinical Hypnosis.

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