Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a continual pain that is normally present on an arm or a leg. CRPS commonly develops after an injury, a surgery, a stroke or a heart attack. The person experiences great pain and is unable to continue with daily activities.

CRPS is uncommon, and its main cause isn’t always really understood, as it is still being studied by professionals. Treatment is proven to be more effective when diagnosed early. In such cases, development or even remission are possible.

If you are suffering from different symptoms and you are still seeking to get diagnosed, read this article to learn more about CRPS and how to identify it.

What are typical symptoms of CRPS?

People who suffer from CRPS may not experience all of the symptoms, but identifying them is crucial in order to receive proper diagnosis. Let’s go over them:

  • Pain that comes on suddenly or spontaneously and may be continuous or change with activity. Some claim that it feels “burning,” “pins and needles,” or as though the affected limb is being squeezed. 
  • Excessive or lingering pain following use or touch. Allodynia, a condition marked by heightened sensitivity in the affected area, causes people to experience severe pain with even the lightest touch, routine physical contact, or use. As a result of minimally painful stimuli, some people experience extreme or protracted pain, which is referred to as hyperalgesia.
  • Changes in the skin’s color, warmth, or edema in the affected limb. It’s possible that the wounded arm or leg feels warmer or colder than the uninjured limb. The skin of the impacted limb may become blotchy, blue, purple, gray, pale, or red in color.
  • Changes in the skin texture. Inadequate oxygen and nutrition delivery over time may result in skin texture changes in the affected limb. It might become shiny and thin in some situations or thick and scaly in others. Washing itchy skin or avoiding contact both add to this build-up.
  • Abnormal hair, nail, and sweat growth. People may notice regions of excessive perspiration or no perspiration on the affected limb, as well as hair and nails that grow unnaturally quickly or not at all.
  • Joint stiffness in affected areas. Reduced mobility causes tendons and ligaments to be less flexible, which is a common condition. 
  • Bone growth that is excessive or wasteful. Bones that receive signals from the injured nerves are rarely impacted in limbs with CRPS. 
  • Impaired muscle strength and movement. Most people with CRPS do not have direct injury to the nerve fibers that control the muscles coordinating muscle movement. Pain and irregularities in the sensory input that aids in movement coordination are typically to blame for this. 

What causes CRPS?

Researchers don’t understand why some people develop CRPS while others with similar injuries don’t. They believe it is due to an inflammatory or immune response in both the peripheral and central nervous systems.

In more than 90% of cases, CRPS results from neurotrauma or injury to the affected extremity that damages the finest sensory and autonomic nerve fibers. These tiny fibers transmit sensations of pain, itching, and temperature. They also control the overall health of small blood vessels and surrounding cells. The most common injury associated with the development of CRPS is fractures, especially wrist fractures. Nerves can be damaged by bone misalignment, fractures, or the pressure of tight casts.

Other common injuries that can lead to CRPS include:

  • Surgery: Surgical incisions, sutures, or scars can cause nerve damage.
  • Sprain or Strain: Damage to connective tissue can cause joints to move excessively and overstretch nearby nerves.
  • Burns, bruises and cuts: These are all telltale signs of damage that may have damaged the underlying nerve as well. CRPS can also develop in the absence of overt trauma or by prolonged immobility.

If your symptoms match with the one mentioned on this blog and you are looking for the right diagnosis and treatment, we can help you. At Greater Houston and Greater Victoria Interventional Pain Management we provide different treatments that can help you if you’re experiencing complex regional pain syndrome. Contact us today to receive the best care at the nearest clinic.