In most cases Complex Regional Pain Syndrome will not have been caused by a car accident however there is a significant proportion that is a direct result of motor vehicle collisions. Road traffic accidents are a major cause of traumatic injury and represent more than half of all cases handled by personal injury solicitors. If you have been injured in a car accident and you want to make a compensation claim for personal injury and loss just complete the contact form, email our offices or use the solicitors helpline. Our Complex Regional Pain Syndrome solicitors offer free advice without further obligation. If we deal with your claim it will be on a no win no fee basis, compensation is paid in full and you do not have to fund or finance your car accident compensation claim.
Complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD. In laymans terms it is called causalgia. It is a complicated syndrome of chronic pain that affects any part of the body but most commonly the leg or arm.
Complex regional pain syndrome has no known cause but it is believed to be related to an abnormality of the sympathetic nervous syndrome. Others believe it is related to an abnormal immune system that leads to inflammatory problems such as warmth, redness and swelling of the affected area.
There are two forms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD. CRPS 1 is a disease that happens after a minor injury to an arm or leg that eventually damages the nerves, leading to chronic pain. CRPS 2 is a condition caused by damage to a specific nerve. It is believed to be the result of injury to the nervous system, including the sympathetic nerves which supply the sweat glands and blood vessel function.
Blood flow is determined by the nervous system and this can't happen normally with CRPS. Sensation is affected and the area is warm to the touch or cold to the touch, depending on which nerves are affected. There are medical problems related to the bones, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and skin. Any kind of nerve damage or damage to an arm or leg, even mild damage, can cause reflex sympathetic dystrophy. In rare cases, sudden illness such as a heart attack or mild stroke can contribute to CSPS. The condition can even occur as a result of no specific injury at all. People between the ages of 40-60 are more likely to get this kind of illness. Younger people can get this condition, too.
The main symptoms include burning, intense pain in the extremity that is out of proportion to the degree of injury the person receives. The pain tends to be worse over time rather than better. It begins at the point of injury of the extremity but then spreads to involve the entire limb. It can even spread to the opposite side of the body. There are three stages to the disease.
In stage I, the symptoms last one to three months. The arm switches back and forth between warm and cold sensations, there is joint pain and muscle spasms and the nail and hair grow faster. There is severe burning pain that is worse with even the slightest touch to the skin. The skin looks red, blotchy or purple. The skin becomes shiny and thin with increased swelling of the extremity. The extremity becomes more sweaty. Stage II lasts three to six months. The skin continues to look different and the nails become cracked and broken. The pain worsens and the hair growth slows. The muscles are weak and the joints continue to be sore. Stage III tends to be irreversible. There is a limitation of movement of the extremity because muscles and tendons become contractured, and the muscles are wasted. Pain is almost uncontrollable and is chronic. There can be related depression and anxiety due to chronic and unrelenting pain.
The diagnosis of CRPS is complicated and not easy to do. Doctors take a complete history and physical examination. The tests can show a temperature difference between the arm or leg and the opposite arm or leg. Bone scans can show osteoporosis and nerve conduction studies can show abnormal nerve function. X-rays may also show bony changes. The physical examination is the best way to show the signs and symptoms of the disease.
The treatment of chronic regional pain syndrome is difficult and the disease is not curable. The primary focus is on relieving the pain and other symptoms so the person can live a normal life. Physical and occupational therapy should be a part of the treatment of CRPS as soon as the diagnosis is made. Medications that work include pain medications, corticosteroids for inflammation, blood pressure medications and medications to prevent bone loss, such as Fosamax. Antidepressants are often necessary to control depression. Some people need psychotherapy to learn how to deal with the pain and to function normally in society.
There can be invasive techniques that can treat CRPS. These include injected medications that numb the sympathetic nerves and an internal pain pump that directly gives pain medication to the spinal cord, called an intrathecal pump. Spinal cord stimulators provide a pleasant sensation to the affected area that distracts the person away from the pain and, in serious cases, the sympathetic nerves are surgically destroyed in order to stop the over activity of the nerve.
If you have suffered physically, mentally or financially, you should consider making an accident compensation claim. For free telephone advice from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome solicitors just call the helpline. Our lawyers will assess the strength of your claim and will advise you on your potential award of compensation without any further obligation.LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 339 958
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here