Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a complex multi-symptom pain syndrome affecting a limb, or limbs, that can affect any one of any age. It usually occurs following tissue damage to the limb, but it can also be triggered by visceral diseases, central nervous system lesions or from unknown causes.
CRPS can strike at any age, but is more common between the ages of 40 and 60. It affects both men and women, but is most frequently seen in women. Although it is more common in the older age groups, the number of CRPS cases among adolescents and young adults is increasing.
It often affects the hand or foot, but may also involve the knee, hip, shoulder, or other sites. The main symptom of CRPS is severe pain, often burning in nature. The disorder may eventually result in dystrophy (weakness or wasting) of the area. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are very important if CRPS is to be successfully managed.
Symptoms can vary in severity and length and can be difficult to manage. Skin changes are also common. Skin can become blotchy or red/purple, shiny and thinner. People may also experience excessive sweating of the affected area.
There is no single test for diagnosing CRPS. Diagnosis is a clinical one and is made through observation of the patient’s signs and symptoms. When diagnosed and treated within the first 3 to 6 months, there is the highest possibility of cure and treatment of CRPS is most effective.
The most important element of treating CRPS syndrome is restoring normal movement to the affected part. This condition is easiest to treat in its early phases. Much of the treatment is based on a courageous effort of the patient to get the limb moving again, even if it is uncomfortable. A formal Physiotherapy exercise and movement programme along with the use of mirror boxes and graded motor imagery techniques are used.
It is common for both GP and Psychologist to be involved in treating the wider array of symptoms.
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