Friday, November 23, 2007

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)? Have You Tried Alternative Medicine?

Hi All,
I was inspired by an online friend of mine to enter this article I put together about those who live with Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain syndrome with two forms. CRPS 1 or what used to be called "reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome". It is a chronic nerve disorder which occurs most often in the arms or legs after a minor or major injury. CRPS 1 is associated with severe pain; changes in the nails, bone, and skin; and an increased sensitivity to touch in the affected limb. CRPS 2 replaces the term causalgia, and results from an identified injury to the nerve.

CRPS often develops after an injury or infection that has occurred in an arm or leg. It can also occur after heart attacks and strokes. However, the condition can sometimes appear without obvious injury to the affected limb. The cause of CRPS is thought to result from damage to the nervous system which includes the nerves that control the blood vessels and sweat glands.

The Nerves that are damaged affect the body in that they can no longer properly control blood flow, sensation, and temperature to the affected area. This leads to medical problems in the nerves, blood vessels, skin, bones, and muscles. Those aged 40-60 have been seen to be affected the most by this condition.

There are 3 stages of symptoms involved with CRPS, however, often CRPS does not follow this progression. Some people go into the later stages almost immediately. Others remain in Stage 1 indefinitely.

Stage 1 which lasts 1-3 months, has the following symptoms:

Severe burning, aching pain increasing with the slightest touch or breeze Swelling with warmth or coolness Skin becomes dry and thin, changes color Increased nail and hair growth Pain may move further up or down the affected limb.

Stage 2 which lasts 3-6 months, has the following symptoms:

Swelling spreads Noticeable changes in skin texture and color Decreased hair growth Changes in bone seen in x-rays Stiff muscles and joints.

In Stage 3 irreversible changes become evident.

Pain may exist in the entire limb Permanent tissue changes Muscle wasting Limited mobility in limb Contractions involving muscles and tendons Depression or changes in mood may accompany these symptoms, especially in stage 3.
Diagnosing CRPS can be difficult, but early diagnosis is very important. Often, the symptoms are severe compared to the original trauma or injury.

The key complaint is the severe, burning pain.

Treatment should be started as early as possible. This may prevent the disease from progressing. Treatment usually includes a combination of therapies but there is no single treatment, such as a pill or nerve block, that can cure CRPS, but many CRPS patients do find that their pain and other symptoms get much better with the right therapies.
CRPS can improve when patients get treatments that lessen the pain (such as nerve blocks, medicines, and other treatments)

Every patient with CRPS responds differently to each therapy -- what works well for one patient may not work at all for another. Because of this, doctors may need to try many different medical therapies in different combinations. It is often best for patients with CRPS to see pain specialists, who are experienced in taking care of patients with difficult pain problems. Alternative treatments can play a definite part in the overall relief of the Pain caused by CRPS.

Some patients get pain relief from acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With acupuncture, needles are placed in specific areas on the skin to help relieve pain. With TENS, patients carry a small, box-shaped device that sends electrical impulses into the body through electrodes. These electrical impulses interfere with pain signals.

Foods may help as well specifically capsicum, the pungent component of hot peppers which reduces pain and inflammation. There are Herbs that reduce inflammation as well that can help including: Saw Palmetto, Rosemary, Bromelain, Cat�s Claw, Licorice, and Valaria

The following herbs are considered anti-spasmodics:
Angelica, Cramp Bark, and Black Haw

The following are Natural Pain Relievers:
Feverfew and Burdock.

Biofeedback has also been known to help.

Hypnosis performed by a professional or self hypnosis taught to you by professional may help as well.

Physical and occupational therapists can help patients with CRPS by teaching programs of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning. The overall goal is to help the patient get back range of motion, strength and motor control. Physical and occupational therapists might also try treatments including the following:

* Gentle massage

* Alternating hot and cold application

* Cryotherapy

* Active and passive range of motion

* Whirlpool therapy

* Moist heat

* Elevation of the region

* Compressive garments (ie, ischemic compression)

* Paraffin baths

* Diathermy

* Biofeedback

* Desensitization (performed sequentially to decrease hypersensitivity)

Acupuncture can also help with the pain. Acupuncture is a therapy developed more than 2,000 years ago in Asia that consists of stimulating designated points by the insertion of needles to restore and balance the body's energy. Acupuncture can produce regional anesthesia by conducting a weak electric current through the inserted needles. Explanation of how it produces anesthesia currently is being investigated.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now

No comments: