CRPS – The Pain Is Real

Complex Regional Pain SyndromeRecent findings suggest that individuals with complex regional pain syndrome deal with a great amount of pain during every day activities. According to some pain scale rankings, CRPS ranks higher on the pain scale than childbirth, cancer and even amputation.

For those of you unaware of what complex regional pain syndrome is, CRPS is categorized as a chronic condition that typically affects one limb, usually arising out of a trauma. CRPS involves a disruption in the way sensory signals are processed and deciphered along the central nervous system, leading to extreme pain even when no traumatic experience is happening. Actions like putting on your socks or brushing against a door frame can trigger inflammation and painful sensory signals.

Treating CRPS

According to the National Institutes of Health, CRPS typically affects women, and the average age of a CRPS sufferer is 40 years old. The issue with CRPS is that since it involves a communication breakdown in the central nervous system, it can be extremely hard to diagnose correctly. One report suggests that the average CRPS sufferer searched for answers for four years before receiving the appropriate diagnosis. Part of the problem is medical oversight, but this is due in large part to it being such a rare condition, and the fact that research dollars are being spent elsewhere.

So how do we work to treat and prevent this problematic condition? For starters, education is key. That’s the main reason we shared a large infographic about CRPS on the blog earlier this week. Both patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of the problem of CRPS. It can be treated and managed, but only with an accurate diagnosis. People should not have to wait four years to get to the bottom of their health problem.

Funding For CRPS

We also need to be spending more research dollars on understanding chronic conditions. Chronic pain affects roughly 30 percent of Americans, and the toll it takes on the healthcare system as a whole is billions of dollars, yet funding to better understand the condition and help those who suffer day in and day out continues to be lacking.

St. Paul CRPS Pain Doctor

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, and you’re struggling to get answers about your condition, set up a consultation with a Minnesota Pain Specialist. We won’t stop until we get to the bottom of your condition, because our goal is to help you live a pain-free life. Contact us today for more information.

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a complicated condition in which nerves incorrectly send pain signals to the brain, even though there is no painful sensory action taking place. For people with CRPS, actions like a gust of wind on their neck or toweling off after a shower can trigger a painful flareup. CRPS can be difficult to treat because it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem is along the nerve path to the brain. However, with careful evaluation and coordinated treatment with a pain management specialist, symptoms can be kept under control.

Today, we want to take a closer look at CRPS by partnering up with our friends at Burning Nights CRPS. They’ve created a wonderful infographic that examines the problems caused by CRPS and what actions you can take if you’re suffering from the condition. Check out the infographic below, and be sure to swing over over to to learn more about CRPS and other chronic conditions.

CRPS Infographic

What Is CRPS, and What Does That Mean?

As the name implies, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a complex problem that affects many people with chronic pain. Many people believe CRPS is an untreatable condition, which leads them to accept their pain, but in the hands of a skilled pain physician, up to as many as 75 percent of people with CRPS can be treated and successfully see their pain subside.

Recently I was contacted by Victoria, who runs a charity for individuals with CRPS. Her goal is to spread awareness about the condition and explain exactly what’s going on inside people with CRPS. You can read more about Victoria’s story here, but Victoria reached out to us to see if we would be willing to share an infographic she put together explaining chronic regional pain syndrome. So without further adieu, you can see Victoria’s informative infographic below, and be sure to check out her site for more information about CRPS. Additionally, if you have any questions about CRPS or how it is treated, contact a physical medicine pain specialist today.

What is CRPS and What Can We Do About It-Infographic


CRPS, Chronic Pain and Your Brain

Pain is an extremely complex issue. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a prime example of the new understanding pain specialists are finding in the world of pain. Explaining these problems have taken years, but we are finding new information on what is happening when these conditions develop. We know now that there are peripheral issues at the site of injury, problems at the spinal cord and the equivalent of a short circuit in the brain when these conditions occur. Pain is maintained by feed-forward pain reception and feed-back sympathetic efferent loops. The brain stem, hypothalamus, limbic system and cortex all play roles.

Once an injury occurs, pain receptors in the periphery of the body, at the skin, bone and joint start sending signals to the brain. The sensory fibers first go to the periphery of the cord – the dorsal root ganglion where the sensory cell bodies are located. These cells then send signals to the cord in the dorsal horn and then to the brain. At this point, the cells in the DRG also are putting out several inflammatory chemicals IL-1, TNF, and IL-6 that promote inflammation in the periphery and increase the pain sensitivity of the spine and brain. Not only do the nerve cells become active, but glial cells, which we thought were just inert insulation, become active and produce more of these chemicals that promote inflammation. These chemicals then make the nerve cells more sensitive to pain reception and increase the number of signals going to the brain.


Pain and Brain

The brain is the master processing of all nerve and chemical signals in the body. The signals from the periphery for pain travel to the brainstem, then to the hypothalamus, thalamus, limbic system and cortex. The chemicals produced in the periphery also sensitize the brain also to pain signals. There are also an increased number of signals going to multiple areas of the brain, overwhelming certain areas and stimulating brain areas that are active for anxiety and depression in the cortex and limbic areas. Furthermore, the increase in signals also interacts with the motor inhibitory signals that are supposed to block pain signals. Thus in CRPS, there are multiple regions with increased activity, from the periphery to the spinal cord and into the brain.

The treatment of CRPS is now becoming more complex. The first obvious treatment is to try to eliminate the factors in the periphery that are stimulating the sensory signals. This means trying to correct even the small injuries that stimulate pain receptors, allow healing of the injury. During the treatment of the injury, interfering with the delivery of signals to the cord and brain is also important. This may be done with a variety of interventional techniques, physical therapy, medications, and psychological techniques. When the peripheral treatment of the injury is incomplete, then a full array of pain management techniques may need to be fully explored and treatment needs to be coordinated by a knowledgeable pain management specialist with expertise of medications and advanced interventional techniques including implantable options.