What is Complex-Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

October 27, 2021

In the world of indivisible illnesses, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is often neglected. But about 200,000 cases happen each year in the States. Though CRPS isn’t commonly named among invisible illnesses, it can create the same effect. You look fine on the outside so why are you sick? This leaves the person without emotional support and can often result in isolation and guilt. So, what is CRPS?

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

If you’ve ever broken a bone or had an injury, you may have been sent to physical therapy. Sure PT is painful; this writer has been to PT more than she’d like to admit! But when the pain in physical therapy becomes so strong, you know something is wrong. 

Always speak up when your symptoms change. Your team of doctors may diagnose you with CRPS. This disease has also been formerly called RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy).

“Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a broad term describing excess and prolonged pain and inflammation that follows an injury to an arm or leg. CRPS has acute (recent, short-term) and chronic (lasting greater than six months) forms. CRPS used to be known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and causalgia.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 

When Can CRPS Happen?

CRPS can happen after an injury. This writer, for example, broke a finger. After physical therapy became insanely painful, I was referred to a pain specialist. The pain specialist prescribed medications while I continued PT and then scheduled two sympathetic nerve block procedures. Yes, it was scary -- and incredibly painful. 

It was a long (and expensive) road before my pain levels were manageable and healing came. Sadly, there’s not always a happy ending of healing for everyone.

“It's not well understood why these injuries can trigger CRPS. Not everyone who has such an injury will go on to develop CRPS. It might be due to a dysfunctional interaction between your central and peripheral nervous systems and inappropriate inflammatory responses.” Mayo Clinic

CRPS and Color the World Orange Day 

November 1 is Color the World Orange Day to raise awareness for CRPS. The best way to celebrate, the website says, is to simply wear orange. You can always post about it on social media; the hashtag is #CRPSOrangeDay.

As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!

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