Two Treatments for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Early treatment is the most effective when dealing with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Unfortunately, it’s a perplexing disorder that’s often misdiagnosed because the pain and other symptoms are out of proportion to the triggering injury and persist even after the initial trauma heals. So, what’s the good news?

Experts like our team at the Pain Institute of Southern Arizona (PISA) can accurately diagnose and successfully treat CRPS with minimally invasive therapies designed to eliminate your symptoms and restore your quality of life. This stellar group of pain management specialists provides outstanding care for patients in and around Tucson, Green Valley, Safford, and Benson, Arizona.

At PISA, we’re pleased to successfully combine innovative technology with our team’s considerable medical expertise and compassion to offer effective treatments for numerous chronic pain conditions. Read what our specialists say about CRPS and two highly effective treatments our patients find especially beneficial.

What is complex regional pain syndrome?

CRPS is a long-term (chronic) pain condition that typically affects an arm or leg. Symptoms can include:

  • Continuous burning or throbbing pain
  • Generalized inflammation and swelling in the affected area
  • Joint stiffness and swelling
  • Blotchy skin color, ranging from excessively pale to red or bluish skin
  • Excessive tenderness or extreme sensitivity to touch in the affected limb
  • Changes in hair and nail growth 
  • Painful muscle spasms

As the condition progresses and you avoid using the affected arm or leg due to pain, you may also experience muscle weakness and loss (atrophy) or muscle tightening/contracture, which may eventually interfere with your ability to move the extremity.

What causes CRPS?

Researchers aren’t sure why some people develop CRPS and others don’t. The condition is likely caused by abnormalities or injuries related to the peripheral nerves or central nervous system.

It may occur after an injury sustained during an accident or fall, such as a broken leg bone or ankle fracture. Tissue trauma linked to surgery, heart attack, various infections, stroke, and even sprained ankles and wrists can also trigger CRPS.

While pain is a common factor in CRPS, symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, skin, and muscle changes also contribute to its debilitating nature.

Treating CRPS

Like other chronic pain conditions, successful treatment for CRPS requires a multifactorial approach that may include oral medications to relieve pain and decrease inflammation, physical therapy, and various topical treatments to reduce skin hypersensitivity and discomfort.

Your PISA specialist may also recommend:

Sympathetic nerve block

Delivered via injection, a sympathetic nerve block contains an anesthetic that stops pain signals transmitted by sensory nerves from reaching your brain. When used early in the course, some limited research studies and our own extensive clinical experience has shown that this treatment may significantly reduce or even help eliminate the effects of CRPS.

Spinal cord stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator is a small medical device surgically implanted just under your skin near the spine. Once programmed, the stimulator effectively blocks or masks pain messages sent from your nerves to your brain.

At PISA, we use the advanced HF10™ Spinal Cord Stimulation system due to its superior results and elimination of bothersome side effects that plagued earlier models. With the HF10, we also offer a trial period to help you gauge its effectiveness before undergoing the quick and minimally invasive implant procedure.

You can rely on the experts at the Pain Institute of Southern Arizona to deliver an accurate diagnosis and effective relief from the debilitating pain and other symptoms associated with CRPS. Call the office today to schedule an appointment.