Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a chronic pain that happens most commonly after a surgery, injury, stroke or a heart attack. It is certainly a condition that causes a great amount of pain.
We can first start by explaining the term so that it becomes clear what we are talking about. It is “chronic” because it last a long period of time, usually more than 3 months and in most of the cases it doesn’t go away at all. It is “complex” because there are many problems that people who suffer from it can experience. This makes the situation complex.
Then we have “regional”, because it affects a particular region of the body, most commonly the limbs. After that we have “pain” – don’t need an explanation for this one. This condition is extremely painful. And finally we have “syndrome”, which means that there are many symptoms that are related to this condition. Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome usually appears in the form of longer-than-usual post-injury healing.
The affected person usually has the following symptoms:
– Pain – and I mean a lot of pain usually. The person will probably feel like his hand/leg is burning or something like cutting, shooting. The affected body part will be very sensitive to touch, even hard to move.
– Change in color – the changes in color usually happen to everyone who suffers from chronic regional pain syndrome. The affected limbs are likely to change their color into red, blue or very pale. In some cases, the skin can become very shiny.
– Temperature –the temperature of the affected body part can change. You might feel that place to be too hot, and then it may get cold.
– Swelling – A swelling of the affected limbs is possible, although it usually goes away after the pain becomes chronic.
– Sweating – you might feel temperature changes in your body and start swelling occasionally.
– One or more limbs affected – at first you might have just one limb affected, but as the condition progresses it is possible that other parts start getting affected.
– Limited movement –moving can become really painful not only because of the pain, but because joints can also feel stiff and uncomfortable.
– Hair and Nails – the affected person can usually feel some changes in growing or texture of the hair and nails.
Types of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
This complex regional pain syndrome is usually divided in two categories or types. The symptoms of these two categories are the same, but the source or the cause of the pain is different. These are:
– Type 1: Pain that happens after an injury, but when the nerves are not damaged. This is the most common type.
– Type 2: People who suffer from this type have a nerve damage.
There isn’t just one test that can show if you suffer from chronic regional pain syndrome, but there are several other options that can lead towards a final diagnosis. They are: bone scans, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and sympathetic nervous system tests. These few examinations can be a good start if want a full diagnosis.
It is said that there is no cure if the complex regional pain syndrome becomes a chronic condition. Researches show that this condition becomes worse after time. However, if treated properly and on time, there are several options and treatments that can help you improve. You do not want to expect just one miracle cure. Often, a combination of several kinds of therapies and medications has shown to give the best results.
– Pain killers. Some over-the-counter medications might be a great pain relief and stop inflammation in the affected limbs. If those do not help you, consult your doctor for some stronger pain-killers or opioid medications.
– Antidepressants. If the source of your pain is a damaged nerve, antidepressants can help you get rid of the pain.
– Nerve-blocking medications. These medicines work by blocking pain fibers in all the affected and damaged nerves. This way you won’t feel that much pain.
– Corticosteroids. Steroid meds can reduce the inflammation in the affected body parts and help you move the parts more easily.
– Bone-loss medicines. These medications will help if you have a problem with bone loss because of the regional pain syndrome.
– Physical Therapy. Soft exercises can increase mobility of the affected limb.
– Analgesic Creams. Apply these creams on the painful limb to reduce pain and sensitivity.
– Splints. Sometimes splints can be a great support for your limbs, especially if your arms are the ones affected.