Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A mysterious and disabling disorder - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A mysterious and disabling disorder


A minor injury, such as a sprain or strain suffered in an automobile accident, can result in a medical condition producing such intense pain that victims are unable to get out of bed. Complex regional pain syndrome affects more than 9,000 Canadians each year with almost half of the new cases arising in Ontario. Although it was first discovered by a doctor in the mid-1800s, doctors do not have a test they can use to diagnose the condition in a patient, and no particular treatment plan has proven effective in relieving the suffering of all patients. While some patients recover over time, for others it can result in long-term disability and suffering.

What is complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition affecting one or more limbs. It is usually associated with an injury or trauma to the affected area, but the pain experienced by victims suffering from CRPS is not in proportion to the injury. For example, a 29-year-old woman who experienced pain in her hip while running on a treadmill eventually developed CRPS. Five years later, her pain was so excruciating that she could not get out of bed.

Case studies show that anyone can develop CRPS, but women between 40 to 60 years of age appear to get it more than women of other ages or men. The way in which it affects people also varies with some patients experiencing only mild symptoms that eventually go away while other patients with the disorder continue to suffer from chronic and intense pain for the rest of their lives.

Causes and symptoms of CRPS

Doctors continue to struggle to understand the causes of CRPS. It appears to be the result of a person’s body reacting to an injury or trauma. As CRPS develops, it affects nerves in the limbs and in the brain. Medical professionals are quick to point out that the pain experienced by victims of the disorder is not imagined. It is very real and can be debilitating.

Some of the symptoms victims of CRPS may experience include:

  • Pain out of proportion to the initial injury
  • Blotchy or shiny skin
  • The sensation of burning or extreme cold in the affected area
  • Shaking, swelling, stiffness or weakness in the affected limb
  • Tingling or numbness in the affected limb

People suffering from CRPS may have difficulty sleeping due to the pain and discomfort. They might experience mood swings, anxiety and depression.

The lack of a test for CRPS means doctors must rely upon a physical examination and a thorough review of the patient’s medical history to arrive at a diagnosis.

Treatment for CRPS

No one form of treatment has proven successful in combating the effects of CRPS, so doctors might use a combination of the following treatments:

  • Pain Management: Different types of medications or combinations of medicines may be prescribed depending upon the severity of the pain.
  • Physical therapy: Patients benefit from gentle movement of the affected limb. Depending upon the patient’s condition, therapists might incorporate stretching and exercise to help maintain muscle tone.
  • Counselling: Coping skills, behaviour modification, relaxation techniques and other methods for dealing with the way in which patients react to and manage their condition have proven effective.

An important factor in successfully treating CRPS is for patients to learn as much as possible about the disorder. The knowledge and insight they gain about their condition can help them to better cope with it and assist with their treatment.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation for individuals injured due to the negligent conduct of another party.  If you or a loved one has been injured and suffers from CRPS, call their 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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