Welcome to the Patient Education Library of Southern Regional Pain Services
Pain Management: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Stage I occurs at the onset of CRPS and can last about three months. You may feel burning pain, stiffness, increased sweating, and warmth in your affected limb. Your nails and hair may grow faster than usual. Your skin may become dry, thin, and change color.
Stage II CRPS lasts from three to twelve months. You may experience an increase in swelling. Your skin may become cooler and more sensitive to touch. Your pain may become more widespread. Your joints and muscles may become stiffer.
Stage III occurs from one year on. Changes in Stage III may be irreversible and permanent. The pain may spread to your entire limb. Your joints may be very stiff and very difficult to move. You may experience muscle wasting and contractures.
Your doctor can prescribe medications to help ease your symptoms. A combination of medications may be used including pain relievers, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medications, and steroids. Injected pain relieving medications, spinal cord stimulation, and implanted medication delivery pumps may provide pain relief for longer periods of time.
You may be referred to rehabilitation, including aquatic therapy. Participating in rehabilitation will help ease symptoms and improve function in your limb. Your therapists may use modalities, such as application of hot and cold treatments or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) unit. Desensitization techniques may be helpful for hypersensitivity. Additionally, aquatic therapy can provide a warm and supportive environment for you to safely exercise. In many cases treated with injections, therapy should immediately follow an injection, to take advantage of the relief the injection may provide.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.