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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


What is CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a complex pain disorder thought to have roots in the central nervous system. It often begins with an injury that is very painful and becomes a syndrome that lasts longer than the injury takes to heal. Diagnostically, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a painful debilitating condition characterized by sensory, vasomotor, sudomotor, and trophic changes.

Since this is a disorder of the central nervous system, a multidisciplinary approach utilizing physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, and a wellness team can produce the best outcomes for CRPS. The team can focus on treatments that help modulate the way the central nervous system processes stimulus and teach it that the output does not need to be pain. Think of a lightswitch turning on or off everytime someone in the room moves versus just when you flip the switch. When your nervous system is sensitized as it is in CRPS, the “pain switch” is constantly flickering and cannot send you accurate pain signals.

Some treatments the team uses to help modulate this pain response are Mirror therapy, Graded Motor Imagery, tactile discrimination training, and exposure therapy.

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