What Is the Difference Between Chronic Pain Syndrome and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Living with ongoing, severe pain can affect every part of our life. Two conditions that involve chronic (long-lasting) pain are complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and regular chronic pain syndrome.  

While both have continued pain, it’s important to understand the differences between them for proper diagnosis and treatment. This article explains CRPS, how it differs from regular chronic pain, and available treatments, including those at our clinic. 

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? 

Complex regional pain syndrome is an uncommon form of chronic nerve pain. It usually develops after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack. Even after the initial injury heals, patients with CRPS continue feeling intense, burning pain in an arm, leg, hand, or foot. 

There are two main types: 

  • CRPS-I happens after an illness or injury without direct nerve damage. 
  • CRPS-II results from a distinct nerve injury. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • Severe, burning, stabbing, or squeezing pain 
  • Increased skin sensitivity 
  • Changes in skin temperature, color, and swelling 
  • Joint stiffness and muscle spasms/tightness 

How CRPS Differs from Regular Chronic Pain 

While CRPS is a type of chronic pain, there are some key differences from other chronic pain conditions. 

Regular chronic pain usually stems from an initial injury or underlying condition like arthritis. The pain continues over time but tends to stay at a similar level. However, CRPS pain is excessive and much more severe compared to the original injury. 

Additionally, CRPS uniquely causes changes in skin color, temperature, sweating, and difficulty moving the affected area that doesn’t happen with regular chronic pain. Chronic pain develops gradually, while CRPS comes on rapidly after a triggering event like trauma. 

Treatment Options for CRPS 

At Innovative Pain Solutions in Orlando, we offer specialized treatments to effectively manage CRPS pain: 

Common Treatments for CRPS 

The common CRPS treatments include physical therapy to increase healing, psychotherapy to cope with the pain and medicines for inflammation. 

When the common treatments don’t work we move to other options: 

Epidural Injections 

Here we focus on precise injections and procedures to interrupt the abnormal pain signals of CRPS. Injections in the spine (epidural) or nerve blocks can provide significant relief. 

Stem Cell Therapy 

For CRPS affecting joints, muscles, and connective tissues, we use the body’s own stem cells. These regenerative cells facilitate healing and reduce inflammation driving CRPS pain. 

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy 

PRP uses concentrated plasma enriched with growth factors from the patient’s blood. PRP injections can speed recovery for joint/muscle injuries that develop into CRPS. 

Spinal Cord Stimulator 

As a treatment of last resort, spinal cord stimulators can help manage severe, persistent CRPS pain by delivering mild electrical impulses that interfere with pain signal transmission to the brain. 

Skilled Care for Overcoming CRPS Pain 

CRPS involves chronic, severe pain out of proportion to the initial injury. Though a chronic pain condition, CRPS presents different symptoms, progressions, and causes compared to regular chronic pain. 

At Innovative Pain Solutions, our approach combines advanced injections, stem cell, and platelet-rich plasma therapies to disrupt abnormal CRPS pain signaling and promote healing. If you or a loved one struggles with persistent CRPS pain, our experienced team can provide skilled guidance. 

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