There is no doubt that many of us deal with pain on a daily basis. That being said, there are some conditions, like complex regional pain syndrome, that are truly unpleasant and difficult to live with. This complex neurological disorder is something that you can’t ignore. However, with the proper treatment, you can learn to live with it.
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What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
This is a very painful syndrome that most often affects one or more of the limbs or extremities. This means hands, feet, arms, and legs. CRPS is often thought to be the result of damage or malfunction in the affected limb. The syndrome originates in the central nervous system and is often thought to be result from some issue or damage that has been caused to that limb. With this syndrome, the signals that are being sent from the brain are those of pain and intense discomfort. This can change the skin color of the limb, lead to swelling, changes in temperature, and can cause mild to severe pain that is persistent and very intense.
Types of CRPS
There are a few different levels of this syndrome. CRPS is a very serious illness that is often very hard to treat and that can cause very painful side effects that are long lasting. In most cases, those affected can recover over time as the nervous system mends itself and goes back to normal. Others, however, may have lasting nerve damage that cannot be reversed no matter the treatment or the amount of time.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1
The first type of this disorder is often reserved for those that have no real confirmed damage to their nervous system. They are often those that experience pain as if they have had this type of damage but there are no confirmed cases where they were injured. Those that are experiencing pain without any confirmed damage are classified as having this type. This is also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. Though this is often not as serious in some ways as type 2, it is still painful and can still make functioning on a daily basis difficult.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II
Those that have confirmed nerve damage suffer from type II CRPS. These individuals may also be classified as having causalgia. Most people who get complex regional pain syndrome are around age. However, anyone that experiences nerve damage can have this disorder. There are no real ways to pinpoint these syndromes or how to avoid them.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Symptoms
There are a few different symptoms that are related to this disorder. The first is changed in skin texture in the area that you believe is affected. The skin of a person that is suffering from complex regional pain syndrome will be very tight, thin, shiny, and not at all like normal skin. This change will come quite quickly and may be completely unexpected or inexplicable. The next symptom that you can look for is abnormal sweating in the presumably affected area or in the surrounding areas. This means that your sweat glands may be acting over time. For instance, if your arm is affected, you may be sweating in your armpits more than usual.
Another symptom you can look for is changes in hair and nail growth both on your head and in the area that is affected. This means that if you have affected limb, you may have excess or less hair growth. Your nails may also become dry and brittle, and they may break off. Yet another symptom that you need to look for is stiffness in the joints of the affected limb. This can cause horrible pain and will likely make you unable to move the joints of that limb. It becomes very uncomfortable to move, and can affect the way the individual goes about their daily life.
You may also experience problems with coordination of muscles, and an inability to move your limbs that may be affected. Lastly, you may experience abnormal movement in the affected limb. You may have an abnormal or out of the ordinary posture or resting pose. You may also have jerking or a palsy of sorts, or you may not be able to move it at all.
All of the issues discussed here are difficult to live with and often make it hard to work or live from day to day. Those who have regional complex pain disorder are not likely able to go about life as they would have before they became afflicted.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Stages
Although stage one and stage two are somewhat exclusive, they can go back and forth. Once someone has been confirmed to have nerve damage, they may progress and find that the damage that has been mentioned is not what really caused the syndrome at all. Adversely, those that have type one may find later on that they did sustain some type of damage resulting from the syndrome.
There are a few different ways to determine the cause of your regional pain. Knowing where to start is the best thing. First, you should think if you have experienced any damage that may have impacted your nerves. If you are certain you have been injured, you should tell your doctor so that they can then determine the best method of treatment. The next thing you should do is to clearly discuss the pain with your doctor, so that they can start to diagnose the case and determine the cause. Things like sprains, strains, breaks, and soft tissue injuries can all lead to the disorder.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Treatment
There are a few different options when it comes to complex regional pain syndrome treatment. The first is of course an anti inflammatory drug that can help reduce the inflammation that often leads to intense pain and discomfort. The next step is corticosteroids to also help with the inflammation. Corticosteroids also help keep the swelling and edema down. The very next step is to determine if you need other drugs that were initially created to treat things like seizures and depression. Things like gabapentin, pregabalin, and duloxetine have all been proven to be useful in treatment of this type of disorder – the reason being mainly that they are geared toward nervous system disorders and learning how to deal with them.
You may also try administered and prescribed injections to help with pain such as morphine, hydrocodone, and vicodin, and even n-methyl-d-aspartate treatments. These serve as a means of getting your muscles relaxed to reduce pain and tension from the disease. You may also be prescribed nasal calcitonin to help with deep bone pain. The last thing you may deal with is topical cream to help with temporary pain and in-between doses of your stronger pain medication.
If medication doesn’t work, you may be able to undergo surgical sympathectomy. This operation enables doctors to remove and disable some nerves to help manage the pain that is associated with this disorder. You may also be able to undergo spinal cord stimulation in an effort to help encourage the regeneration of the nerves. You can also take a nerve block in the spine if the pain is very intense and you need something a bit stronger. Your doctor will work with you to ensure that you are given the best care in order to make sure you are getting better.
Though it may seem like those that are undergoing this type of pain are doomed to a life of being in pain, in time this disorder does ease up and does get better so that eventually, the nerves will start to function somewhat properly again. They may not be back to one hundred percent, but those that suffer will eventually get some relief. Complex regional pain syndrome does not have to rule your life.