The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association defines Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) as a neuro-inflammatory disorder with continuing regional pain that is disproportionate to the typical course of pain after an injury. The pain generally resides in a region of the body such as the wrist/hand/forearm area and symptoms are often described as a deep burning sensation. Symptoms can also be accompanied by abnormal and hypersensitive sensation, motor changes, excessive or lack-of sweating of the region, swelling, and changes in skin color or temperature. This is caused by abnormal nervous system and immune system responses to a musculo-skeletal or nerve injury, surgery, or immobilization. Your physician will make the diagnosis based on your medical history, clinical examination and laboratory results.
How can physical therapy help?
Your physical therapist will conduct a comprehensive physical exam after discussing your medical history and functional limitations. Your physical therapist will prescribe exercises and deliver evidence-based treatment specific to CRPS. Patients who are well educated regarding their condition generally have superior outcomes compared to those who are not. Your therapist will continue to provide education to you and your family regarding the current understanding of pain throughout your treatment while advising you in exercise and activity that is appropriate for your ability. Effective treatments for managing CRPS include mirror-box therapy, exercises specific to the affected region, and pain-relieving modalities. The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) recommends an “Active Interdisciplinary” approach, including an active role by the patient and a team approach by your providers. Our physical therapists are networked with many healthcare providers who offer services such as counseling, pain management, dietary counseling and medical management. We want to be on your team!