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3 Things No One Has Told You About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

3 Things No One Has Told You About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

More than 200,000 people suffer from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), an uncommon medical condition that causes chronic pain in a specific region of your body, typically an arm or a leg. 

Although CRPS can strike anyone at any age, it’s about 3-4 times more common among women and much more common among adults.

CRPS can be tough to diagnose, but at Pacific Sports and Spine, our team has in-depth experience in both diagnosis and treatment of CRPS at our practices in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon. Here are three things about CRPS that we want you to know.

Most cases don’t involve direct nerve damage

You might think CRPS can only happen if you’ve had direct nerve damage, but that’s not the case. In fact, about 90% of people with CRPS have Type I CRPS, the type that doesn’t involve nerve injuries. This type of CRPS is also called sympathetic nerve dystrophy.

The second type of CRPS (Type II CRPS) is much less common. People with Type II CRPS have been diagnosed with associated nerve damage. This type of CRPS is sometimes called causalgia, which is defined as significant pain due to peripheral neuropathy.

So if CRPS isn’t associated with a nerve injury, what causes those burning pains and persistent aches? Researchers don’t know, but they do know it usually happens after an injury, stroke, an infection, or surgery, where the body’s pain response is out of proportion to the initial cause.

It can affect your skin, nails, and hair

Most people think of CRPS in terms of the painful symptoms it causes. But that’s just part of the story. 

Over time, CRPS can affect your skin color and texture, causing skin that’s thin, shiny, or discolored. Your skin may be especially sensitive to changes in temperature or tender to the touch. Some people develop petechiae, tiny, bloodshot vessels just below the surface of the skin.

In addition, CRPS can interfere with normal hair and nail growth. Some people report unusually rapid or slow nail and hair growth or uneven growth, along with brittleness or ridges in their nails (a condition called nail dystrophy).

CRPS can cause muscle weakness and atrophy

Your nerves help you feel pain (and pleasure, too). They also control how your muscles work. Because CRPS affects the nerves, it’s not surprising that many people who have CRPS wind up having muscle symptoms, too.

In addition to muscle cramps and painful spasms, CRPS can cause muscle weakness and atrophy — a loss of muscle mass — over time. Eventually, people with muscle symptoms can experience a loss of movement or mobility in the affected limb.

Patient-centered CRPS treatment

CRPS can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms, and those symptoms can vary — not just from one person to another, but even over time as the condition progresses. The key to managing CRS is to seek medical care as early as possible, so our team can design a treatment regimen just for you.

To learn more about CRPS treatment at Pacific Sports and Spine, call us to book an appointment with our doctors today.

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