Patients who have complex regional pain syndrome live with agonizing pain that, despite treatment, may never go away. It affects the patient’s ability to work, causing financial strain, and impacts the quality of life, causing emotional trauma. All too often, complex regional pain syndrome is caused by someone else’s actions—in a car accident, workplace incident, or slip and fall injury.
Understanding Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
According to the Mayo Clinic, complex regional pain syndrome is chronic pain that is more severe than expected based on the initial injury and typically affects the patient’s arm or leg. The most common causes of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) are an injury or trauma, a stroke or a heart attack.
There are two types of complex regional pain syndrome:
- CRPS Type 1 (also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy): occurs after the patient has suffered an injury or illness that did not directly damage the nerves in the affected limb.
- CRPS Type 2 (previously called causalgia): occurs after damage has been done to the nerves in the affected limb.
The symptoms of both types of complex regional pain syndrome are similar.
Patients can obtain a complex regional pain syndrome diagnosis through a physical exam and review of their medical history. Although no single test will provide a firm conclusion, some tests, including x-rays, bone scans, and MRIs, can be used by a doctor to suggest a CRPS diagnosis.
Often patients with CRPS will not present all symptoms at the same time. This complicates both the medical diagnosis and prosecution of a case involving this condition and makes it particularly important that anyone who suspects CRPS as the cause of their condition consults with an attorney knowledgeable in this condition.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Symptoms
CRPS side effects are unique to each individual and can change over time. Among the CRPS disease symptoms:
- Sensitivity to touch
- Sensitivity to cold
- Swelling in the affected area
- Skin temperature varies between sweaty and cold
- Continuous burning or throbbing
- Changes in skin texture
- Changes in skin color
- Joint stiffness or swelling
- Muscle spasms, tremors, weakness or loss
- Decreased mobility in the affected area
A patient could experience the syndrome in the following ways:
- CRPS foot pain
- CRPS leg pain
- CRPS wrist pain
- CRPS arm pain
Typically, by the time the patient’s limb becomes cold and pale and suffers muscle spasms, the condition is irreversible. Unfortunately, in some patients complex, regional pain syndrome can spread to other parts of the body.
Complex regional pain syndrome treatment includes medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants, corticosteroids, and sympathetic nerve-blocking medications; and therapies, including heat therapy, topical pain relievers, physical therapy, and spinal cord stimulation.
There are a limited number of physicians who specialize in treating CRPS patients. A knowledgeable attorney is critical in assisting you in recognizing CRPS symptoms and obtaining a referral to the correct specialist.
Complex regional pain syndrome can develop into a more disabling condition, including tissue atrophy or tightening of the muscles. Both of these can have a debilitating impact on mobility.
Even with CRPS treatment, the condition is incredibly painful and treatment does not necessarily mean the patient will fully recover.
Patients with CRPS may find their ability to work and enjoy their day-to-day life severely compromised.
Common causes of complex regional pain syndrome include trauma to a limb, including a crush injury, broken bone, or amputation. Some patients develop CRPS after minor trauma, such as a sprained ankle or a bruise or cut.
Some more common accidents that can result in CRPRS:
If you believe you have developed complex regional pain syndrome, it’s vital to seek medical help for your condition. A CRPS injury is debilitating and can have a significant impact on your quality of life and ability to work—seeking treatment is important to allow you to have the best quality of life possible.
A personal injury lawyer can help determine if your CRPS is linked to someone else’s negligence, such as in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or medical malpractice case. Attorneys at Cutter Law will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who could be responsible for the harm done. We’ll fight to secure damages, so you can obtain the medical care and treatment that will be crucial to your ongoing health.
At Cutter Law, we know that CRPS will affect you for the rest of your life, and we’re dedicated to ensuring you receive compensation that will not only cover the cost of ongoing medical care but compensate you for pain and suffering.