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Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

What is Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome?

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is a chronic pain condition that affects an estimated 200,000 individuals in the United States each year. CRPS typically develops after an injury or surgery and is characterized by intense pain that is disproportionate to the initial injury or surgical site. This pain may spread to other parts of the body and may be accompanied by swelling, changes in skin color and temperature, and difficulty moving the affected limb.

How does CRPS Occur?

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome is a diagnosis that is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to abnormal functioning of the nervous system. This can lead to increased sensitivity to pain and changes in the way the body regulates blood flow and temperature. Additionally, psychological factors such as anxiety and depression may contribute to the development and maintenance of CRPS.

What are common symptoms to expect with CRPS?

  • Persistent, severe pain: The pain is often described as burning, throbbing, or shooting, and it may be disproportionate to the initial injury or trigger.

  • Swelling and inflammation: The affected limb may appear swollen, red, or warm to the touch.

  • Changes in skin color and texture: The skin may become blotchy, mottled, or pale. It can also become excessively sweaty or dry.

  • Sensory disturbances: Individuals with CRPS may experience abnormal sensations, such as hypersensitivity to touch or temperature, or even a complete loss of sensation in the affected area.

  • Limited range of motion: Stiffness and decreased mobility of the affected limb can occur due to muscle wasting, joint stiffness, and stiffness in the surrounding tissues.

  • Muscle spasms and weakness: Muscles in the affected limb may contract involuntarily, leading to spasms, tremors, or dystonia. Over time, muscle weakness and atrophy (muscle wasting) can develop.

  • Changes in hair and nail growth: Hair growth in the affected area may increase or decrease, and the nails can become brittle or grow abnormally.

  • Emotional and psychological symptoms: CRPS can cause emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and difficulty coping with chronic pain.

How is CRPS Treated?

Due to Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome being a complex condition that affects multiple systems in the body, a multidisciplinary approach to treatment is often necessary. In addition to working with a physical therapist, patients with CRPS may benefit from seeing a pain management specialist, psychologist, and/or occupational therapist.

Physical therapy is an important component of treatment for CRPS, as it can help improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent further complications. Treatment may include:

  • Range of motion exercises: Gentle exercises designed to improve the range of motion of the affected limb can help prevent stiffness and improve function.

  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help improve muscle function and reduce the risk of muscle atrophy.

  • Graded motor imagery: This technique involves visualizing movement of the affected limb and can help retrain the brain to recognize and control the affected limb.

  • Manual therapy: Gentle manual techniques, such as soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization, can help reduce pain and improve mobility.

  • Education: Educating patients on the nature of their condition, including the underlying mechanisms of pain, can help reduce anxiety and improve coping strategies.

It is important to note that treatment for CRPS is individualized and may require a trial-and-error approach. What works for one patient may not work for another, and it may take time to find the right combination of therapies.

How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help with Your Recovery?

At Hybrid Physical Therapy, we have extensive experiences with treating individuals with CRPS. We have seen firsthand how challenging this conditioning can be for patients. The intense pain and other symptoms can make it difficult to complete even basic daily activities and the lack of understanding surrounding the condition can be frustrating for both patients and their families. At our facility, we listen to your concerns and goals to help improve your overall quality of life. We will design a specialized program specific to your needs to address any deficits affecting your life.

Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.

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