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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) varies significantly from patient to patient in its presentation and its development, but it’s generally a disruption to the peripheral nervous system. This may or may not be caused through trauma and can in turn result in a secondary disruption to the central nervous system.

The symptoms may change over time and vary from person to person. Pain, swelling, redness, changes in temperature and sensitivity to cold temperatures are usually experienced first.

The limb that is affected can become pale and cold over time and may also undergo skin changes and nail disorders. Muscle spasms and muscle tightening can also develop and once this happens, the condition can often become irreversible.

CRPS can spread from one part of the body to another, including opposite limbs. In some people symptoms go away on their own while in others they may persist for months or years The sooner treatment is performed from the onset of symptoms, the more effective the outcome will be.

There are two types of CRPS, with similar symptoms and signs however, causes may differ:

Type 1 – this is the most common type of CRPS, and is also referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). It can be caused by an injury or illness that might not have damaged the nerves of the actual affected limb. About 90% of patients are diagnosed with type 1 CRPS.

Type 2 – this was once known as causalgia, and has similar symptoms to those of type 1. However, type 2 CRPS usually occurs as a result of a specific nerve injury.

It’s not well known why certain injuries trigger CRPS. Not everyone with these injuries will actually go on to develop CRPS. It could possibly be due to a dysfunctional connection and interaction between your central and peripheral nervous systems and disproportionate inflammatory responses.

At Global Reach OT & PT,  a hand therapist understands your diagnosis and functional challenges.  Please call or text us immediately and schedule your first hand therapy visit.  We will establish your goals together, monitor weekly progress and help you on your way to recovery!

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