Living Comfortably with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Understanding Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome, commonly referred to as CRPS, is a chronic condition that affects a wide range of individuals. This condition commonly affects individuals who have recently experienced a traumatic injury or surgery. This pain is not easily identifiable, but it most frequently manifests discomfort in the arms and legs. Chronic pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome is more severe than the pain associated with the initial injury or surgery that caused it. 

There are two types of complex regional pain syndrome, classified as Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is also known as sympathetic dystrophy, and it develops without nerve damage. Type 2, however, is also called causalgia, and is directly the result of nerve damage. Patients need to be able to identify their specific condition as this is crucial to successful treatment. 

BEST Health System works with dedicated board-certified doctors to help patients find relief from chronic pain. We passionately believe that patients with chronic pain are often overlooked and undertreated. Therefore, we are proud to place a focus on the treatment of chronic pain and ensuring that all patients receive the care they deserve. 

Signs and Symptoms of CRPS

There are a few stages of symptoms that many patients with complex regional pain syndrome will experience. Patients with Type 1 CRPS will typically experience burning and aching pain, muscle spasms, and faster-growing hair/nails. This stage typically lasts for approximately 1-3 months. 

The next stage of Type 1 CRPS involves heightened symptoms, and patients will experience more significant pain in the arms and legs. The joints and muscles will also start to weaken. This stage typically lasts between 3-6 months, and if CRPS is left untreated by this point, it can be difficult to regain the function of the muscles and joints. 

As soon as patients begin experiencing CRPS symptoms, they must consult their doctor and update them on their symptoms. Patients who promptly seek treatment are significantly more likely to find relief from a condition such as CRPS. 

Common Medications for CRPS Treatment

The overall goal of CRPS treatment is to minimize pain and increase function. Common pain medications are not effective in treating nerve-related conditions like complex regional pain syndrome. Instead, doctors typically prescribe medications that modulate neurostimulators in the brain, which include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Gabapentin, which is a type of anticonvulsant, is the most commonly prescribed medication for patients with complex regional pain syndrome. 

Patients with CRPS often report pain in the extremities (arms and legs) as the most severe and frustrating symptom. Gabapentin often offers relief from these symptoms, and patients typically can function better after taking Gabapentin. 

Although Gabapentin is known to offer mild pain relief, it also comes with negative side effects that turn many patients away from the drug. Patients report feeling dizzy and tired and are more at risk for serious medical effects including memory loss, seizures, and respiratory depression. Patients need to consider all aspects of their health when deciding to use various medications to minimize pain. 

Are Spinal Cord Stimulators the Future of CRPS Treatment?

You may be wondering – is there really a treatment for complex regional pain syndrome? Physical therapy does not necessarily offer pain relief and medications come with endless side effects, so what is the best treatment route?

Spinal cord stimulators are a modern treatment option for patients suffering from CRPS pain and discomfort. These are surgically implanted devices that block pain signals from reaching the brain. The unique truth of CRPS is that the associated pain is not necessarily the result of an injury, but rather of nerve damage. Therefore, the goal of treatment is not to repair, but instead to find a functional mechanism to reduce the pain. Spinal cord stimulators do just this. 

BEST Health System is a modern ambulatory center specializing in neuropathy and chronic pain management. We offer spinal cord stimulation trials so patients can determine whether the devices offer significant relief. After working with various patients who suffer from different types of chronic pain, we have found that most patients find up to 80% relief from their CRPS symptoms. 

BEST Health System

BEST Health System is proud to offer spinal cord stimulators as a modern solution for debilitating chronic pain. We have witnessed the positive effects of this option for many patients, and we are excited to see the future this offers many patients. 

Schedule a consultation today if you are interested in learning more about our spinal cord stimulator trials.