CRPS is a rare chronic pain disease that is caused by damage to the nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for sending signals to the brain that allow us to feel pain. When these signals are damaged, they can misfire, causing us to feel pain even when there is no physical damage to the body.
CRPS can occur after an injury, trauma, or surgery. It often affects one arm and leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body. There are two types of CRPS: Type I and Type II. Type I CRPS is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). This type of CRPS develops without any apparent nerve damage. Type II CRPS is also known as Causalgia. This type of CRPS is caused by known nerve damage.
CRPS can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. In fact, people with CRPS have been found to have a lower quality of life than people with other chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis and low back pain. People with CRPS often feel isolated and misunderstood because the condition is not well-known and can often be challenging to diagnose and treat.
Symptoms of CRPS include:
The symptoms of CRPS can vary from person to person, but they usually fall into one of three categories: physical, emotional, and cognitive.
The physical symptoms of CRPS include:
- Chronic pain that is out of proportion to the initial injury
- Skin changes (redness, warmth, or coolness)
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal sweating
- Hair growth or loss
- Sensitivity to touch and temperature change
- Changes in skin color temperature
- Abnormal nail and hair growth
The emotional symptoms of CRPS include:
- Sleep disturbances
The cognitive symptoms of CRPS include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
What Are The States of CRPS?
Stage One: Acute
The acute stage of CRPS typically lasts for three months. During this stage, patients experience severe burning pain and swelling. The skin may also change color and become thin and fragile. Patients may also report experiencing joint stiffness and muscle spasms, as well as problems moving or using the affected limb.
Stage Two: Dystrophic
Also known as the sub-acute phase, the dystrophic stage of CRPS typically lasts for six to twelve months. During this stage, patients continue to experience severe burning pain, as well as muscle atrophy (wasting). Joints may also stiffen, and contractures can form. The skin may become thicker and darker. In some cases, patients may develop calcinosis, which is when calcium deposits form under the skin.
Stage Three: Atrophic
Also known as the chronic phase, the atrophic stage of CRPS typically lasts twelve months or more. This stage is characterized by persistent burning pain, joint malformations, and muscle atrophy. The skin may become thin, dry, and wrinkled. Nails may become brittle, and hair loss may occur. Patients may also experience anxiety and depression during this stage.
CRPS is a progressive condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. There are three stages of CRPS: acute, dystrophic, and atrophic. Although there is no cure for CRPS, early diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing the condition and preventing further progression.