What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (or CRPS) is a condition that is most often caused by an injury to the arms or legs. Individuals who develop long term pain and inflammation following one of these injuries may be diagnosed with CRPS. This is caused by damage to nerves called the peripheral C-fiber nerves that are in charge of relaying painful stimuli to the brain, as well as causing inflammation for the recovery process.
Who can get CRPS and what symptoms does it cause?
CRPS can happen to an individual of any age group, though it is more prevalent in those around the age of 40 and less common in elderly individuals. Most individuals recover over time with mild symptoms of pain as the nerve repairs over time. CRPS can be caused by a variety of factors including fractures, sprains, burns, cuts, surgeries, and can even result from castings. This condition however may take longer to resolve for those with other underlying conditions such as smoking, diabetes, and can even be affected by your genetics. There may be an onset of long-term pain and disability if your body is unable to repair the damaged nerve.
Treatments for CRPS, now available in Dayton, Ohio
Physical therapy is one of the most important ways to help heal a damaged nerve causing CRPS. Keeping the affected area moving can be beneficial in increasing blood flow to the affected area and improve recovery along with flexibility and mobility.
There are many medications that can be used to help cope with the pain CRPS may cause, especially in the early stages. These medications can include but are not limited to Acetaminophen, Corticosteroids, NSAIDS, topical anesthetic ointments, and even botulinum toxin injections. It is important to note, however, that at this time there is no FDA approved medication to specifically treat CRPS itself.
One new groundbreaking and FDA approved treatment for CRPS is Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) stimulation. The Dorsal Root Ganglions are clusters of cell bodies that are important for relaying signals from our nerve receptors to the central nervous system. All sensations in our bodies travel through the DRG in each segment of our spinal cord, and the DRG can also filter out painful stimuli. Stimulating the DRG with electrical leads can allow the nerve cells to be less sensitive to pain to help better adjust a person’s nervous response to painful stimuli.
A clinical study on DRG stimulation showed that 74.2% of participants had over 50% improvement in their pain. It is important to first try non-invasive methods before turning to DRG stimulation, such as medications or physical therapy. However, the procedure to receive a DRG stimulator is a minimally invasive procedure that is about 1-1.5 hours long. It requires light sedation and a small incision, where you will have a pulse generator and 4 electrical leads placed at the affected DRG.