Chronic Pain Isn’t Always Understood

The human body is a miracle of function and engineering. But at times, it can also be a pain…literally. And that pain can be somewhat of a mystery.

That’s the case with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This chronic pain condition occurs when the body sends high levels of nerve impulses to the affected site.

Dr. Trujillo helps our patients deal with the pain of CRPS.

What causes CRPS?

CRPS, which is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, is thought to occur as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system. It is assumed to be caused by multiple factors. Some theories suggest that pain receptors in the affected part of the body become responsive to catecholamines, a group of nervous system messengers. When CRPS comes after an injury, it’s thought that the injury triggered an immune response, which then causes the inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area. It’s thought that CRPS may actually represent a disruption of the healing process.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

One symptom of CRPS is continuous, intense pain that gets worse rather than better with time. When CRPS develops after an injury, the pain is far beyond what would normally occur with that injury. Pain can start with a small injury, such as to a finger, but it will spread to the entire arm.

These are symptoms:

  • Burning pain
  • Swelling and stiffness in the affected joints
  • Motor disability, with decreased ability to move the affected body part
  • Changes in nail and hair growth (can lead to rapid hair growth or no hair growth)
  • Skin changes in temperature: hot or cold compared to the other extremity
  • Skin color changes: becoming blotchy, pale, purple, or red
  • Skin texture changes: becoming shiny and thin

How is CRPS treated?

There is no cure for CRPS; the goal of Dr. Trujillo’s treatments is to relieve the painful symptoms. The early line of treatment options is conservative: physical therapy, cognitive behavioral pain therapy, corticosteroid injections, antiseizure drugs, topical anesthetic, and even antidepressants.

More involved treatments include:

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks — Anesthetic is placed next to the spine to directly block the nerves causing the pain.
  • Intrathecal pain pumps — Dr. Trujillo implants the small pain pump in the abdominal area. It is connected to a tube that runs from the device to the intrathecal space around the spine. The pump then delivers medication into that space.
  • Spinal cord stimulation — Dr. Trujillo places electrodes next to the spinal cord, which inhibit the pain signals from getting sent to the brain.

Do you have symptoms of chronic regional pain syndrome? Call Dr. Trujillo at (855) 768-4968 and let’s help you manage the pain.

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