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Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

What do you do when you wake up in the morning? Open your eyes, of course. You begin your daily activities like brushing your teeth and everything else that’s supposed to follow, right? Ever wondered how all of this happens?

What is it that makes us know that we need to scratch our arm, or pull of the hand from the gas stove? There’s somebody orchestrating it. The question that arises is, who sends these signals to the brain to perform an action? 

The Voluntary Nervous System.

Although, we all must have studied about how the nervous system functions, let’s have a recap of the subject, with an interesting example that many live with.

 

The human body is designed with multiple functions that help the body function properly. The most important functions of all, are our responses which make us perform daily tasks. The nervous system is responsible for every single action that we perform. Look at the image below for a comprehensive understanding of the nervous system of the human body.

Such is the case with pain signals as well. One of the most popular chronic multi-system of the autonomic, or voluntary nervous system and the central nervous system (CNS) is CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). CRPS is known to be devastating for patients as it usually is diagnosed too late for complete cure. 

What is CRPS?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a condition which involves high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an injured area. Pain specialists believe that it occurs as a result of dysfunction of the central and the peripheral nervous systems.

CRPS is most common among people in their 20s to mid 30s. Its has also been noticed that it is mostly seen occurring in women and children. 

 

How does CRPS occur?

A normal response to an injury begins when the pain receptor nerves deliver pain messages in the form of nerve impulses to the brain. The pain centres in the brain then generate new  impulses and send them to the injured area, causing expansion and inflammation of the blood vessels. This inflammation results in redness, pain and swelling in the injured area. As the wound heals that swelling subsides, and the pain goes away. However, if the person has complex regional pain syndrome, the pain and swelling does subside after the wound heals.

Although the actual cause of CRPS is not known, experts say that the nerves in the injured or affected limb are highly sensitive than other nerves in the body which causes pain and extreme tenderness in the affected area. 

Common Symptoms of CRPS

  • Skin sensitivity and changes: The skin may become extremely sensitive to light touch.

  • Abnormal sweating occurs frequently.

  • Swelling: may take place in the injured region.

  • Skin changes

  • Abnormal skin changes rashes may occur.

  • Skin infections can become severe.

  • The skin may become shiny, dry, scaly or discoloured in the affected area.

  • Hair changes: hair may become frizzy and thin.

Psychological symptoms

  • Increased stress.

  • Loss of self-confidence.

  • Difficulty in coping.

  • Difficulty in accepting support from friends or family.

  • Depression

Diagnosing a complex regional pain syndrome 

The diagnosis is usually difficult, especially in the early stages. There are no specific routine tests and investigations which are specially done to diagnose a complex regional pain syndrome. However, blood tests and investigations are necessary to rule out any other cause for the symptoms.

Living with CRPS

How you respond to the pain you live with, is entirely different from how a healthy person can and also depends on the ability to live with a complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS has to be treated and managed, with a proper diagnosis and consultation with your pain specialist. 

About Sunshine Hospitals:

A multi-super specialty institution, Sunshine Group of Institutions has its presence at 6 loctions and is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man.