Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can be frustrating and hard to diagnose. Also known by its older name, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), CRPS is a chronic and painful condition. It generally affects one limb, such as a shoulder, hip, arm, leg, hand, or foot, and in about 90 percent of cases, is triggered by an injury to the affected limb.
It’s believed that injuries such as a fracture, sprain, surgery, burn, cut, or limb immobilization sets off a response in your sympathetic nervous system. The injury signals your sympathetic nervous system to ramp up, but for some reason it doesn’t turn off after the injury has healed. Instead, it amplifies your body’s reaction to the injury. CRPS is considered to be a nerve and circulatory condition.
The most common symptom of CRPS is chronic and severe pain. However, symptoms of this condition may also affect you in the following ways:
- Skin changes, such as thinning, texture changes, a change in color, or a shiny appearance
- Joint stiffness
- Hypersensitivity in the affected and surrounding area
- Changes in skin temperature and sweating patterns
- Decreased range of motion and coordination
Changes in the circulation, color, and temperature of your limb affected by CRPS are caused by damage to the nerves that control the flow of blood in the area. For that reason, your limb may appear blotchy, pale, red, or blueish. In addition, the change in circulation may cause your affected limb to feel warmer or colder than the surrounding areas.
CRPS is also known to affect your immune system, causing inflammation in the area, accompanied by redness and swelling. Having another inflammatory or autoimmune illness may also raise your risk of developing CRPS.
While CRPS can occur in anyone, it’s diagnosed more frequently in women than in men. It can affect people of any age, but is more common in adults around 40 to 50, and less so in children and elderly adults. It’s also important to note that CRPS can occur in people who haven’t sustained an injury. It’s suspected however, that those patients may have had an undetected pinched nerve, blood vessel condition, or infection that triggered CRPS symptoms.
Diagnosing CRPS can be confusing and difficult. There are no tests for this condition, so a diagnosis is based primarily on your symptoms and medical history. There are a number of other conditions that mimic CRPS, so ruling out other possibilities also aids in a diagnosis.
If You Struggle with CRPS, Here’s How BodaHealth Can Help
At BodaHealth, our practitioners are knowledgeable and experienced in treating CRPS. We provide a number of treatment strategies, based on your health history and current needs. The healing tools we use to help patients with CRPS include:
-Acupuncture. Acupuncture can be helpful in treating CRPS because it increases circulation to the affected area, reduces inflammation, and alters your brain chemistry to enhance your body’s pain relieving chemicals and provides stress relief. While the research on treating CRPS with acupuncture is limited, early case studies suggest that acupuncture can be an effective strategy for this condition. Studies have reported decreased pain, reduced sensory changes, and improved motor function in patients who treated their CRPS with acupuncture. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23113454
-Pilates, Therapeutic Exercise and Fascial Stretch. At BodaHealth, we offer both therapeutic exercise and clinical Pilates in a one-on-one format. We also offer a therapy called fascial stretch, which involves working with the connective tissue in your body, called fascia, to increase the mobility of your muscles and nerves. Physical activity specific to your needs is an important component in treating CRPS. It can help preserve function, improve strength, build muscle, and maintain both flexibility and range of motion in your affected limb.
-Shockwave Therapy. This effective treatment option involves sound waves that deliver high levels of energy to painful areas. This shockwave energy helps to decrease pain and promote repair and regeneration of tissues. Early research on the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in patients with CRPS determined that it offered a significant decrease in the patients’ level of pain, both in the short and long-term.
-Injection Therapy. At BodaHealth, we offer injection therapy for a variety of conditions. In treating patients with CRPS, recent research indicates that something called perineural injection therapy (PIT) can be helpful. PIT involves injecting dextrose with sterilized water into specific points subcutaneously (just beneath the skin). Dextrose is used because it inhibits chemicals that cause inflammation of your nerves. PIT can be an effective way not only to reduce nerve inflammation, but also to decrease pain, reduce swelling, and promote healing.
-Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathy is used to speed the healing process and decrease inflammation in patients with CRPS. Our naturopathic doctors assess your nutritional status and prescribe vitamins, herbs, antioxidants, and other nutritional supplements to support your body’s needs. In addition, they work with you to develop a sound nutritional plan to ensure that your diet supports healing.
-Osteopathy. At BodaHealth, our osteopathic practitioner is knowledgeable in helping patients with CRPS. She is trained in treating a number of conditions through the assessment and manipulation of your musculoskeletal system. Osteopathic treatments aid in maintaining your range of motion, improving circulation, reducing pain, and restoring function.
-Massage Therapy. Our massage therapists are well-trained in a variety of techniques to increase circulation, loosen tight muscles, and stimulate lymphatic drainage to decrease swelling. In addition, massage is well-known for its relaxing effects, which is an important part of treating this challenging condition.
At BodaHealth, we want to help. We have experienced practitioners on staff who come from a wide range of backgrounds. They can offer a variety of healing strategies to reduce your pain and increase your level of functioning. We are committed, compassionate, and understand how frustrating CRPS can be. Give us a call today to see how we can help you.