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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that typically affects one limb, often after an injury or trauma. It is characterized by intense and persistent pain, as well as changes in skin color, temperature, and texture. CRPS can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and may require comprehensive treatment to manage symptoms effectively. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of CRPS is crucial for early diagnosis and intervention. Here are some common signs and symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

1. Persistent, Severe Pain

One of the hallmark symptoms of CRPS is continuous and intense pain that is disproportionate to the initial injury or trauma. The pain may be described as burning, throbbing, stabbing, or shooting and can spread beyond the affected limb to other parts of the body. The pain may worsen over time and become debilitating, interfering with daily activities and quality of life.

2. Sensory Changes

Individuals with CRPS may experience sensory changes in the affected limb, such as increased sensitivity to touch, temperature or pressure. Even light touch or gentle stimuli can trigger intense pain or discomfort. Conversely, some individuals may also experience numbness or tingling in the affected limb, further complicating the sensory experience.

3. Swelling and Changes in Skin Appearance

CRPS can cause noticeable changes in the skin of the affected limb, including swelling, redness, and changes in temperature. The skin may appear shiny, thin, or translucent, and it may feel warmer or cooler to the touch compared to the unaffected limb. In severe cases, the affected limb may also undergo changes in hair and nail growth, becoming either excessively coarse or sparse.

4. Muscle Weakness and Atrophy

Over time, CRPS can lead to muscle weakness, stiffness, and atrophy in the affected limb. Reduced mobility and activity levels due to pain and discomfort can contribute to muscle wasting and loss of function. Physical therapy and exercise may help improve strength and range of motion, but muscle weakness and atrophy may persist despite treatment.

5. Joint Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion

CRPS can cause stiffness and limited range of motion in the affected limb, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks and activities. Joint stiffness may worsen over time, leading to contractures and deformities if left untreated. Physical therapy, stretching exercises and gentle mobilization techniques can help improve flexibility and joint function, but progress may be slow and challenging.

6. Emotional and Psychological Symptoms

Living with chronic pain can take a toll on a person’s emotional and psychological well-being. Individuals with CRPS may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, frustration, and social isolation due to their condition. Coping with the physical and emotional challenges of CRPS may require support from healthcare professionals, family members and mental health providers.

7. Autonomic Dysregulation

CRPS can affect the autonomic nervous system, leading to symptoms such as excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), changes in skin color and temperature and abnormal hair and nail growth in the affected limb. These autonomic dysregulation symptoms are often present alongside other signs of CRPS and may contribute to the overall complexity of the condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment for CRPS

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a debilitating chronic pain condition characterized by persistent pain, sensory changes, swelling, skin abnormalities, muscle weakness, joint stiffness and emotional distress. Early recognition and diagnosis of CRPS are essential for initiating appropriate treatment and improving outcomes for individuals affected by this challenging condition. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms suggestive of CRPS, it is important to seek medical evaluation and intervention promptly to address pain and prevent further complications.

At FullRange Spine & Ortho, our pain specialists can provide multidisciplinary treatment for patients with CRPS. Contact one of our clinics in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, area to schedule a CRPS treatment consultation.

Posted on behalf of FullRange Spine & Ortho

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