Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also called Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is a chronic neurological disease in which there is malfunction of the nervous and immunological system as they respond to tissue damage through accidental or medicinal procedure.
Based on whether the nerves are injured or not, the RSDS have been subdivided into 2 categories namely:
Type I, also known as Sudeck’s atrophy or reflex neurovascular dystrophy are caused due injury that did not affect the nerves.
Type II, known as causalgia has the evidence of obvious nerve damage caused by forceful trauma like accident, surgery, infection etc.
Symptoms of RSDS:
Characteristic signs and symptoms of sympathetic nervous system involvement include the burning pain along with skin color and temperature change. Symptoms associated with an immune reaction include joint pain along with swelling and frequent infections.
Distinguishing signs of motor system dysfunction include increased muscle stiffness, muscle spasm, tremor and weakness. Other symptoms include dermatitis, eczema, and excessive sweating, fatigue and migraine headache.
Treatment of RSDS:
Psychotherapy like mirror therapy has proven beneficial to reduce pain levels in CRPS patients. In mirror therapy the affected limb is placed in a mirror box and the unaffected limb is reflected in a way as to make the patient think they are looking at the affected limb. Since the patient can move the particular limb, he gets the notion that his affected limb can move without any pain. Further when the patient moves his affected limb the level of pain felt by him is reduced.
A variety of drugs including topical analgesics, narcotics, corticosteroids, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs are used for treating RSDS. Lidocaine infusions and injections which is a local anesthetic have also proved beneficial for treatment of RSDS.
Herbal medicines like Dynamint which is a mixture of peppermint, tee-tree oil, eucalyptus, and calendula have proved beneficial.Lymphatic massage is especially helpful to calm the nervous system without stimulating blood flow.
Physical and occupational therapy are important components of the management of CRPS primarily by desensitizing the affected body part, restoring motion, and improving function.Spinal cord stimulation in which electrodes are placed next to the spinal cord, offers relief for many people with the condition.Acupuncture and acupressure techniques are used for controlling pain by inserting very thin needles into the skin to lessen pains.