Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a difficult medical issue to treat. If you think you may have it, you want it gone. Unfortunately, there are few physicians and even less specialists who understand it and are able to manage the problem. Pain specialists, neurologists, and many other experts struggle with the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. In any field of work, 90% of people do a good job, however with CRPS, you need to find the 10% who are superior in their skill level. They are the artists, they put in a phenomenal effort to find a cause and a set of solutions to cover all the complex interrelated issues.
The starting point with complex regional pain syndrome is finding a Pain Specialist certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. These are medical doctors with the extensive qualifications in all aspects of understanding pain. Board subspecialty qualifications insures a higher level of knowledge. The next quality is that the physician sees and treats the problem frequently. If they only see a couple of cases a year, it is unlikely they will have the interest and skill needed to successfully manage the problem. If the doctor walks into the room, immediately knows what is wrong and can talk to you sensibly about the problem, you have found the expert. He will also take a team approach to treating you, guiding you through any additional diagnosis and the variety of treatment options.
Treatment of CRPS
A CRPS expert will also understand this is a not a final diagnosis. CRPS is being caused by some sort of damage to the a particular region of the body. Finding the cause behind CRPS is essential in finding the route to managing and possibly resolving some or most of the pain. Treating symptoms rarely treats the CRPS. An expert will dig deep to find the all the issues that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system maintaining the pain. At times, treating the underlying problems resolves the CRPS. Unfortunately, at times, the damage to structures cannot all be solved and residual issues remain despite the best management.
Complex regional pain syndrome affects both the upper and lower extremities. Finding the diagnosis that is causing the problems is essential in treating CRPS. Treating the symptoms is helpful initially, but treating the underlying problem is essential in improving the outcome. In the lower extremity, orthopedic injuries especially to the foot and ankle cause CRPS in about five percent of individuals. Common causes include injuries to the ligaments and tendons of the ankle and foot that caused instability. Surgical management of the foot and ankle problems, along with aggressive simultaneous lumbar sympathetic injections may resolve the issues. Complex regional pain syndrome is less common in the upper extremities, but is also related to ongoing, unresolved injuries that are continuing to stimulate pain signals.
Finding a pain specialist who understands the complex issues related to the pain is difficult. Experience and training is essential to achieve a good outcome. Look for the physician who sees many patients with this problem on a regular basis. If the physician has not seen these patients frequently, it is unlikely that you will be satisfied with your treatment results. CRPS is a difficult problem to treat and finding the pain specialist with experience is necessary for a satisfactory outcome.