Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that typically affects a single arm or leg. CRPS usually occurs after a trauma or injury to the limb. While major injuries such as lacerations or fractures may trigger CRPS, minor traumas such as surgery, infections or joint sprains can also lead to the condition. CRPS is uncommon and not well-understood. Researchers believe that it results from dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system, but the actual cause is unknown.
Signs and symptoms of CRPS may include burning pain, sensitivity to touch, swelling, joint stiffness, muscle weakness and changes in skin color, temperature and texture. There is no cure for CRPS, however, outcomes are significantly improved if diagnosed and treated early. More disabling symptoms such as muscle wasting and stiffness can develop if the condition progresses. Treatment involves a combination of pain-relieving measures and physical therapy to maintain limb strength and range of motion. Pain relief usually involves a combination of medication and targeted injections, such as stellate ganglion block or lumbar sympathetic block. For those who do not improve with injections, spinal cord stimulation can offer relief.
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