What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jeffrey S. Antin with Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein, LLP.

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is a chronic pain condition that can arise from a variety of diseases and/or traumatic situations. CRPS/RSD can have a significant effect on someone’s quality of life, and can make it much harder to enjoy daily activities and relationships. CRPS/RSD typically involves high levels of chronic pain, and although it may begin in just one part of the body such as the arms, legs, hands, or feet, there is potential for the condition to spread elsewhere in the body as well.

This condition generally develops after the body suffers a serious injury or medical condition, and can last for months or even longer. Unfortunately, there is no known cure, and the condition is usually treated with pain medication and therapy. Although there is not one particular cause, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 90% percent of people with CRPS detect the origin of their CRPS/RSD by looking back at their medical history following a serious injury or illness. Early detection and treatment of CRPS offers a better chance at forcing the condition into remission, although this is not always the case.

Some of the most common causes of CRPS/RSD according to Healthline include:

  • Trauma, such as fractures, broken bones, or amputation
  • Infection
  • Soft tissue injuries such as burns and bruises
  • Sprains
  • Radiation therapy
  • Cancer
  • Surgery
  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Heart attack
  • Emotional stress
  • Nerve pressure
  • Stroke

Treatment of CRPS/RSD can vary widely, but as there is not a single cure, doctors typically prescribe a number of topical analgesics, antidepressants, corticosteroids, opioids, and other medications to manage the pain and depression/anxiety that may accompany it. Some doctors may also recommend physical therapy, sympathetic nerve block, spinal cord stimulation, and intrathecal drug pumps to deliver opioids and local anesthetic agents via the spinal cord when more traditional means of pain management are not enough. It goes without saying that any of these treatments can be expensive, and combined with treatment costs for the initial injury or illness, finances can be a significant concern.

If your CRPS occurred after an injury caused by another party’s negligence, it may be possible to seek compensation.

Whenever someone suffers as the direct result of another party’s negligent or intentional conduct, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim. Examples of this may include traumatic motor vehicle accidents, premises or product liability accidents, workplace injuries, medical malpractice, and more. Damages that can be claimed in any one of these personal injury lawsuits may include past and future medical bills and lost wages, as well as compensation for chronic pain and suffering.

Lifecare expenses necessary to ensure a reasonable quality of life for the injury victim are also important and may be included in complaints like this. Each of these damages and more are likely to play an important part in any CRPS/RSD victim’s case, seeing as the pain and suffering the victim experiences occur on an ongoing basis and are known to interfere significantly with daily life.

To learn more about CRPS and RSD after suffering a traumatic injury or illness, or for help investigating your claim, reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.

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