Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) can be described as “confusion” of your somatosensory nervous system. A bit like someone that you know who might have taken what you have said out of context, took it in a completely wrong way, and blamed you for all his/her misfortunes, your nervous system has decided to react to something in a rather inappropriate manner and is throwing a massive tantrum.
(This actually occurs to a degree in most chronic pain conditions, but more obvious in CRPS)
When you have CRPS you might not only have excruciating pain constantly, you may have persistent swelling, change in skin colour or appearance, loss of coordination of the limb and inexplicable inflammation-like symptoms.
No one really knows why this confusion of nervous system occurs (although there are many opinions and theories) but it is not necessary to know WHY to treat this.
A 56-year-old female attended our clinic referred by her surgeon. She had a fall about 11 months prior, breaking her hip. She had a successful operation to fixate this. However she had a minor event that began severe pain in her knee a month after the operation. The knee was then unable to be bent or weightbearing (the knee also had underwent a trauma some 20 yrs ago resulting in removal of the kneecap back then, and also has significant early arthritis). A diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome was given.
By the time the patient attended our clinic she had been on two crutches for ten months. The knee had very little, if any, bend. The treatment consisted of the following points:
- exercise to gently and gradually introduce movement and load to the knee
- education for patient to understand the cause of pain
- gradual resolution of fear in certain activities
- desensitisation of the hypersensitive area
After four three months of consistent and hard work (exercising in our clinic 3xper week) she was able to walk 40min with a walking stick. And while she will eventually need a total knee replacement her gains from our management means that she can function a lot better and when she does receive the surgery the outcome will be much better.
Retraining your nervous system is the key
In short, our management of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is focused on CONSISTENT EDUCATION OF CORRECT BEHAVIOUR OF YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM. This education must occur in your ALL FOLLOWING ASPECTS: physical aspect (exercises), psychological aspect (education and integration), and behavioural aspect (effort from the patients to modify their way of thoughts and behaviours to create environment that is conducive to their recovery).
It will take compelling effort often for an extended period of time (months to years) from all parties involved to achieve recovery, but we believe that this always can be done with consistency, clinically accurate management, and right environment.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us (email if you have a bigger query) and tell us about your conditions to take the first step towards your recovery.