You had hip replacement surgery years ago and healed nicely. You were also bedridden for weeks with an infection, but it eventually disappeared. However, you have intense pain in your limbs, even with the lightest touch. You may have complex regional pain syndrome.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1?
Complex regional pain syndrome is a rare physical condition that is severely disabling and primarily affects limbs following surgery or injury. In most cases, people with CRPS report pain of a much higher degree than an injury or surgical procedure would be expected to produce.
There are two kinds, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is also known as sympathetic dystrophy and happens without any recognized nerve damage in the limb, where pain most often occurs.
What Are the Symptoms?
The pain symptoms can sometimes be treated with therapy or medicine like ketamine and may include:
- Severe burning or aching pain that worsens with the slightest touch
- Skin temperature varies uncomfortably between hot and cold
- Rapid hair and nail growth, which get progressively worse the longer the condition lasts
- Muscle tremors and joint pain
- Changes in skin color, appearance, and how it feels
- More sweating
- Limbs become too painful to move, especially if the condition isn’t treated. This results in muscle atrophy and muscle and tendon contraction in the hands and feet – often lasting the patient’s whole life.
What Are the Causes?
Experts at the Cleveland Clinic report that the cause of complex regional pain syndrome isn’t well understood. Science has determined that a combination of factors may create similar symptoms. CRPS could be triggered by:
- General inflammation in blood, tissue, and spinal fluid of people with CRPS
- Inflammation of the nerves
- Changes in perception of pain in someone’s brain and spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system
- According to some estimates, complex regional pain syndrome affects 200,000 people in the United States each year.
- It has no recognized cure.
- CRPS can occur as acute (short-term and specific) pain or long-term pain, which lasts more than six months.
- According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, complex regional pain syndrome may be caused by more than one disease.
- CRPS typically only affects one limb but can spread to other body areas simultaneously.
The Links Between CRPS Type 1 and Mental Illness
Complex regional pain syndrome is intertwined with mental illness and ranks higher on the McGill Pain Scale than cancer, fibromyalgia, and getting a limb amputated without anesthesia. Long-term stress is known to make CRPS even worse, attesting that overall mental wellness plays an essential role in dealing with physical pain conditions.
Common mental illnesses related to complex regional pain syndrome include:
- Major depressive disorder entails lengthy and constant episodes of extreme sadness.
- Bipolar disorder, also is known as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, is a kind of depression featuring rotating episodes of depression and mania.
- Seasonal affective disorder happens in some people with the change of seasons between summer and fall when there are fewer hours of daylight lasting until early spring.
- Cyclothymic disorder is a disorder that triggers emotional highs and lows that aren’t as pronounced as what’s seen with bipolar disorder.
- Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, is a chronic depression lasting six months.
- Generalized anxiety disorder presents itself with constant worry, problems concentrating, and edginess.
- Panic disorder is a kind of anxiety disorder that announces its presence with frequent instances of intense fear, heart palpitations, sweating, and other physical symptoms.
- Phobia-related disorders.
- Social anxiety disorder happens when someone experiences constant fear and avoidance tendencies that can interfere with many aspects of daily life.
- Separation anxiety disorder.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Complex regional pain syndrome can’t be diagnosed with a single test or diagnostic procedure like other conditions. It’s a matter of documenting your personal and family medical history, whether you’ve experienced a recent injury or illness, completing a physical examination, and a closer assessment of your pain symptoms. To perform an accurate diagnosis, your healthcare provider will also utilize the Budapest criteria and tests like electromyography to uncover other possible conditions triggering the symptoms.