What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic pain disorder of the bodily extremities, or limbs. When the arms, legs, hands or feet experience physical trauma, this sparks the onset of CRPS in select cases.
Accordingly, CRPS reflects damage to both the peripheral nervous system (which channels information and external stimuli from the outside world to the body) and the central nervous system (which relays information from the brain to the body).
There is much contention surrounding the issue of Vitamin C, and its role in preventing the onset of this disease. But before this idea can be explored, this disease will require close examination.
Sufferers of this condition report unremitting pain, which may invite noticeable changes in skin tone, temperature, or even inflammation of the affected region. There are two forms of complex regional pain syndrome, and they CRPS-I and CRPS-II. However, sufferers of both conditions undergo identical therapies and treatments.
While CRPS-I patients lack nerve damage, those with the latter condition have confirmed nerve trauma. Symptoms vary along a spectrum, in terms of their frequency, severity, and duration. Those who study this condition take note of a gradual recovery over time in CRPS patients. However, in a select segment of the population, individuals undertake a lifelong battle of chronic pain.
This condition can afflict anyone who has suffered limb trauma to the arms, legs, hands or feet. Furthermore, it can occur in virtually any age group, and impact either gender, as well. Yet, women and people hovering in the age range of 40 are more likely to develop this disease.
Additional Symptom Details
There are distinctive symptoms associated with with CRPS. Individuals who suffer from this disorder report pain that does not relent under any circumstances. Quite often, the pain is characterized by a burning or stinging sensation, as if pins and needles are embedding themselves in the limb.
While the pain may be localized to a particular region of the limb, it may spread to envelope the entire limb itself. In severe cases, a limb may suffer from extreme sensitivity, even to the mildest touch. Those with CRPS often observe extreme changes in the skin color or temperature of the affected region.
This is caused by abnormal blood circulation deriving from damaged nerves that guide temperature and blood flow. Additional symptoms may include changes in skin texture, excessive sweating in the area, a difference in hair growth, joint stiffness, and abnormal muscle coordination.
Physical trauma does not guarantee that one will develop CRPS. While some individuals develop this disease, others with similar experiences do not. However, 90% of the people who develop this condition have a history of physical trauma. Based on these aforementioned facts, genetics may play an integral role in the development of this disease.
CRPS symptoms develop by complex means. Essentially, individuals with this condition incur abnormalities in their peripheral nervous system. Their axons, which transport pain messages to the blood vessels, become disrupted, giving rise to severe pain.
It is believed that trauma exacted upon smaller nerve fibers creates these symptoms. Matters become complicated when the cerebral cortex begins to govern pain responses, amid malfunctioning spinal cord and brain message signals.
CRPS sufferers must also endure oxygen and nutritional deprivation in their limbs, which causes joint damage and pain. In these circumstances, the blood vessels may become constricted, and give rise to discoloration. The effects of CRPS, however, are not limited to the affected area.
Essentially, this is a pervasive condition that can affect the immune system, as well. On rare occasions, this disease may develop, even in the absence of physical trauma. For instance, internal injuries may arise when an untreated infection compromises the nerves. But generally speaking, CRPS is a multidimensional disorder with several key causes.
Currently, no specific diagnostic tests can confirm or disconfirm the existence of CRPS in a patient. The diagnosis is guided by the patient’s medical history, as well as telling symptoms that match the profile of this disease.
How Is CRPS treated?
Just as preventive measures can be taken to avoid this condition, effective treatments can be used once it develops in the body. Typical treatments include both rehabilitation therapy and psychotherapy. Rehabilitation therapy mainly entails the use of exercise that promote healthy blood flow.
Psychotherapy can help address the resulting psychological and social dysfunction that results from CRPS. Additionally, medication has proven especially effective in reducing the painful symptoms of this condition.
With regard to preventative measures, diets sufficient in Vitamin C may prevent the eruption of this disease. Vitamin C has been said to fortify the immune system, which means that if an infection were to occur internally, it would not compromise the nerves. In this context, Vitamin C can prevent this disease from arising.