There is no doubt that many of us deal with pain daily. Some conditions, like complex regional pain syndrome, are truly unpleasant and difficult to live with. This complex neurological disorder is something that you can’t ignore, but with the proper treatment, you can learn to live with it.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
This very painful syndrome most often affects one or more limbs or extremities. This means hands, feet, arms, and legs. CRPS is often thought to result from damage or malfunction in the affected limb. The syndrome originates in the central nervous system and is often thought to be the result of some issue or damage that has been caused to that limb.
With this syndrome, the signals sent from the brain are those of pain and intense discomfort. This can change the skin color of the extremity, cause changes in swelling and temperature, and cause mild to severe pain that is persistent and very intense.
There are a few different levels of this syndrome, including type one and type two, generally reserved for those with confirmed nervous system damage. This is a very serious illness that is often very hard to treat and can cause very painful long-lasting side effects. In most cases, those affected can recover over time as the nervous system mends itself and goes back to normal. Others may have lasting nerve damage that cannot reverse, no matter the treatment or time.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1
The first type of this disorder is often reserved for those with no real confirmed damage to their nervous system. They often experience pain as if they have had this type of damage, but there are no confirmed cases where they were injured. Those experiencing pain without any confirmed damage are classified as having this type.
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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 daily 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 40, but anyone who 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 you can think about if you are concerned that you may have this disorder. The first is a change in skin texture in the area that you believe is affected. The skin of a person 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 maybe completely unexpected or unexplainable.
The next symptom that you can look for is abnormal sweating 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 hair and nail growth changes both on your head and in the affected area. This means that if you have an arm or a leg affected, you may have excess or less hair growth, and your nails may become dry and brittle and may break off. Still another symptom that you need to look for is stiffness in the joints of the affected limb.
These individuals will feel horrible pain and will likely not be able to move their joints in that limb. This makes it very uncomfortable and hard to move and can affect how the individual goes about their daily life.
You may also experience problems with the coordination of muscles and an inability to move your limbs that may be affected. This also makes it very hard for those who suffer from this disorder to do their daily business and function. You, lastly, may experience abnormal movement in the affected limb. You may have an abnormal or out-of-the-ordinary posture or resting pose, you may have jerking or palsy of sorts, or you may not be able to move it.
All of the issues discussed here are difficult to live with and often make it hard to work or live from day to day when you are affected by this issue. Those that 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
Though stages one and 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 caused the syndrome at all. Adversely, those with type one may find that they did sustain some damage resulting in the syndrome later on.
There are a few different ways to determine the cause of your regional pain, and knowing where to start is the best thing. First, you should think if you have experienced any damage that may have caused your nerves. You should make sure that if you are sure you have been injured, you tell your doctor so that they can then determine the best method of treatment.
The next thing you should do is make sure you can discuss with your doctor the pain so that they can again start to determine the cause. Things like sprains, strains, breaks, and soft tissue injuries can lead to the disorder.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Treatment
There are a few different options when it comes to the treatment of this type of disorder. The first is, of course, an anti-inflammatory drug that can help reduce inflammation that often leads to intense pain and discomfort. The next step is corticosteroids to help with the inflammation and to help keep swelling and edema down.
The very next step is to determine if you need other drugs that Who initially created to treat things like seizures and depression. Things like gabapentin, pregabalin, and duloxetine have all been proven to be useful in treating this type of disorder. The reason is mainly that they are geared toward nervous system disorders and learning how to deal with them.
You may also undergo botulinum toxin or botox injections, opioids to help with pain, such as morphine, hydrocodone, 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 may not work, you may be able to undergo surgical sympathectomy, which removes and disables some nerves to help manage the pain associated with this disorder. You may also be able to undergo spinal cord stimulation to help encourage regeneration and re-growth of nerves.
You can also take a nerve block in the spine if the pain is very intense and you need something stronger. Your doctor will work with you to ensure that you are given thethe best care and that you are given everything you can to make sure you are comfortable and that you can be sure you are getting better.
Though it may seem like those undergoing this type of pain are doomed to a life of being in pain, 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. Regional complex pain syndrome, or RSD, does not have to rule your life.