Imagine this situation: a 13-year-old girl lives down the street from you. You see her running and playing with her siblings often, and you know that she is an aspiring track and field competitor. One day, you see her in a walking boot. She has recently broken a bone in her foot from an awkward fall on a hike. What does your mind expect to happen next?
Typically, one would expect that the healthy young girl would be in the boot for a few weeks and then resume life as a normal, healthy kid. "This is just a bump in the road," you may think. Ten weeks later, you see the same girl with the boot on, but this time with crutches too. You can see that her foot looks swollen and discolored, and the girl appears to be in pain.
Another few months go by, and you see less and less of the girl. One morning, her parents pushed her down the sidewalk in a wheelchair. The girl looks like a shadow of her former, vibrant self. What happened? The answer is complex regional pain syndrome, also known as CRPS or RSD.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
CRPS is a debilitating condition in which a small injury, like a broken bone in the foot or a small surgery to remove a cyst, turns into chronic nerve pain that gets worse over time and spreads to different parts of the body. This pain is often resistant to pain medication as well, so there is very little help for these patients from any source.
CRPS causes severe, burning pain in the affected area that can make it hard to go about your daily life. It is thought to be caused by the pain receptors and signals of the autonomic nervous system working faster and stronger. This means that even the slightest triggers, such as temperature changes, touch, or movement, can cause significant pain.
The signs and symptoms of CRPS can be different for each person, but they usually include swelling, changes in the color of the skin, and a very strong reaction to touch. Other symptoms may include muscle spasms, joint stiffness, and changes in the texture of the skin. In some cases, the affected area may become so sensitive that even the weight of clothing can cause pain.
Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The exact cause of CRPS isn't known, but as we've already talked about, it's thought to be a traumatic event like a break, sprain, stroke, heart attack, or surgery. It is thought that nerve damage sets off an abnormal chain reaction of signals between the central nervous system and the affected area. This makes the area more sensitive to pain and touch.
In addition to physical trauma, CRPS can also be caused by psychological stress, emotional trauma, or infection. It is also believed that genetics may play a role in the development of CRPS, as some people are more likely to develop the condition than others.
Signs and Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The hallmark sign of CRPS is severe pain in the affected area. This pain can be constant, burning, or stabbing. Sometimes it can move around different parts of the body. Other symptoms may include: swelling or changes in the color of the skin; stiff joints; weakness in the affected area; extreme sensitivity to touch; hair loss; changes in temperature; and sweating or difficulty sweating.
People with CRPS may also have mental symptoms like depression, anxiety, and trouble focusing in addition to their physical symptoms. It is important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and can even change over time.
Diagnosing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
In order to diagnose CRPS, your doctor will do a physical exam, a review of your medical history and symptoms, and possible imaging tests. They will also check for any other potential causes of your pain. If you have any "red flag" symptoms or test results that aren't normal, your doctor may want to do a more thorough checkup.
Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for inflammation or infection, as well as nerve conduction studies to measure the electrical activity of your nerves. In some cases, a nerve block may be used to help diagnose CRPS. This involves injecting a numbing medication into the affected area to see if it reduces the pain.
Treatment Options for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
There are a number of treatment options available for CRPS. These can include physical therapy to help strengthen the affected area and improve mobility; painkillers; nerve blocks or injections to stop pain signals; counseling to help deal with stress and depression caused by chronic pain; and alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended to help reduce pain and improve mobility. At Evo Performance Rehab, we think that we can help people with CRPS in a meaningful way and avoid surgery. Here’s how we differ from traditional treatments:
- Effective, affordable and safe treatment for CRPS
- Caring, responsive and experienced staff
- Technology shown to create CRPS treatment results
- Treatments and devices (Phoenix Waveform) that are affordable and keep you healthy for life and stop CRPS flare-ups!
Here are some words from a client we have personally treated for CRPS:
"Hi Tyler! My foot and ankle continue to prove a level of healing that is unheard of in the CRPS community! I have mild pain on occasion and a bit of a weird electric sensation when I touch it, but I consider myself healed! I know it is because of your therapy!"
D.L. Client from Minnesota
For background, we helped this person after she got CRPS after hurting her foot and ankle by jumping onto the plate of a shovel while gardening. She had to wear a boot for a much longer time than usual. As a result, her foot got red and swollen, and her nerves hurt a lot. We worked together on mostly a remote basis for two months starting in July of 2020.
Completely Pain Free Results
We helped her get relief from her CRPS that physical therapy and pain clinic treatments weren't giving her. We helped her get off of crutches, then out of the walking boot, and now she exercises and lives as if her CRPS did not exist anymore! Her quote from above came in response to my check, almost 2.5 years after working with her!
Treatment Driven By The Nervous System
The nervous system is the place where the CRPS dysfunction starts, and the nervous system is the place where treatment should start too! Neuro-therapy at Evo Performance Rehab targets neurological communication with other parts of the body.
In a system with CRPS, there is a lot of chaos and disorganization. The ARPwave and Phoenix Waveform stimuli help calm the system by re-coordinating signals and re-organizing movement patterns and functions.
Another challenge that CRPS patients run into is that some of the clinics that have developed a reputation for being able to help with effective treatments are also clinics that have developed a reputation for being extremely expensive.
One clinic uses ARPwave neuro-therapy as a core part of their treatment plan, but it is often said that patients are given an "all-or-nothing" choice of going through many therapies at the same time, which can cost the patient up to thousands of dollars per week. Also, if you make progress in the clinic, it costs $20,000 to get an ARPwave device to use at home.
Call us to talk about your CRPS symptoms and set up a treatment evaluation, or share this with someone in your life suffering with chronic pain. Our neuro-therapy treatment is more affordable than traditional treatments and will leave you pain-free!