Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition that causes intense pain in your arms or legs. It’s not a common disorder, but it does lead to severe pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. Left untreated, CRPS can lead to disability and trouble leading a normal life.
At Delmarva Pain and Spine Center, Dr. Shachi Patel and her expert team offer specialized care for multiple causes of pain. If you have CRPS, Dr. Patel helps you understand the disease, and get the pain-relieving treatment you need to once again enjoy your normal activities.
Symptoms of CRPS
CRPS is a relatively uncommon problem, only affecting about 200,000 people in the United States. The symptoms of this CRPS vary greatly, both in how long they affect you and in their severity. Typically, the pain felt in CRPS is ongoing, progressively getting worse as time passes.
While pain usually affects the extremity where the condition originated, it sometimes spreads to other areas of the limb. It’s also possible for the pain to travel to the opposite limb as well. Other symptoms you should be aware of include:
- Severe sensitivity to touch, often causing severe pain
- Pain that spreads to other areas of your limb
- Burning pain in your limbs
- Swelling in the affected limb
- Temperature changes on your skin
- Changes in skin color or skin texture
When you have CRPS, your nail and hair growth is also affected. For example, you may notice that your nails and hair grow faster than normal, or that there’s no growth at all.
Causes of CRPS
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, over 90% of CRPS cases are caused by trauma to the intricate nerves in your limbs. These nerves aren’t protected, and they relay signals of pain, temperature, and other sensations. They also take care of the surrounding cells.
It’s not fully understood why some people end up with CRPS, while others who’ve faced the same kind of trauma don’t. Common causes linked to the development of CRPS include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts or burns
- Soft tissue injuries
- Immobilization in a cast
Any of these issues may lead to nerve damage, which sometimes causes CRPS. In rare cases, there’s no trauma related to a diagnosis of CRPS. In these cases, there’s often a nerve injury internally, that may have been undiagnosed.
How is CRPS diagnosed?
Unfortunately, there’s no one test that’s used to definitively determine if you have CRPS. Dr. Patel meticulously evaluates your symptoms, as well as your past medical history.
Dr. Patel also performs a detailed physical exam, to look for signs or symptoms of CRPS. For example, she evaluates your skin for changes in temperature or texture. If she notes changes in appearance, this could be a sign of CRPS as well.
She also evaluates your response to pain. If you’re dealing with a severe amount of pain from something small that shouldn’t produce such pain, it could also be a sign of CRPS. Dr. Patel also rules out other conditions or causes of intense pain that could be contributing to your symptoms.
One of the most effective treatments for CRPS is dorsal root ganglion stimulation, or DRG. Your dorsal root ganglion is a tiny bunch of nerves outside of your spinal cord. This area is partially responsible for the overstimulation of your central nervous system that causes many of the symptoms of CRPS.
The DRG is relatively easy to access, making it an ideal treatment for symptoms associated with CRPS. Dr. Patel reviews your symptoms and your overall health to determine if this treatment is right for you.
DRG stimulation is actually similar to spinal cord stimulation. The main difference is that the leads of a spinal cord stimulator are placed in the epidural space of your spine, whereas the DRG leads are positioned right over the dorsal root ganglion.
The leads of the DRG stimulator are then connected to a battery, or generator, that allow the system to work continuously. The leads then send tiny electrical impulses to the nerves, which confuse your pain receptors and reduce your symptoms.
There are other treatments that can help as well, including medications and holistic treatments. In combination with the DRG, you can relieve many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with CRPS.
Don’t continue to suffer from the unbearable pain of CRPS. Call our office today at 302-355-0900 to schedule a consultation. You can also book an appointment with our team on the website.