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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Treatment Information
IU Health provides the most advanced therapies to control pain and manage symptoms of CRPS, including:
- Pain medicines. Both narcotic and non-narcotic pain medicines may be effective in reducing your pain. Medicines may also reduce swelling associated with CRPS. Narcotic pain medicines must be used exactly as prescribed by your physician. They can have strong side effects such as nausea, vomiting and drowsiness and cause you to become dependent. Our physicians work closely with you to reduce side effects and ensure that medicines are used safely.
- Antidepressants. Chronic pain may cause feelings of depression or anxiety. Our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and ensure that your treatments give you the pain relief you need to enjoy your daily activities.
- Psychological counseling. Psychological counseling can help you through CRPS treatment and recovery. Psychologists teach you skills to cope with pain. They also help you work through dependency on narcotic medicines and refer you to support groups for people with chronic pain. Because pain is physical, not psychological, counseling only plays a supporting role in pain relief and cannot relieve pain on its own.
- Physical therapy. To improve your affected limb’s function and maintain your range of motion, you need to participate in regular physical therapy. Physical therapists understand how to gently work with you, especially if you are experiencing sensitivity. They focus on preventing joint stiffness and muscle weakness through stretching and exercise.
- Nerve blocks. A nerve block temporarily blocks signals between the affected nerve and your brain. Your physician injects a long-lasting anesthetic and steroid directly into your nerve. The anesthetic keeps your nerve from sending pain signals. You will experience pain relief for a few weeks. You can receive repeat injections if the effects of the medicine wear off. However, long-term use of nerve blocks is not suggested as it may cause negative side effects such as elevated blood pressure and weight gain.
- Spinal cord stimulation. Electrical signals sent through the affected nerves can disrupt pain signals, offering long-term pain relief. To test if spinal cord stimulation works for you, your physician will place temporary electrode wires under your skin into the nerves in your spinal cord. The wires are attached to a generator that sends electrical signals. If the stimulation works, you may feel tingling in your affected limb, but little to no pain. Once it is determined that the stimulation works, you undergo surgery to place all parts of the stimulation device under your skin. The procedure is minor and can be done on an outpatient basis. Once you no longer need the stimulator, it can be removed.
- Intrathecal pain pump. For severe chronic pain, a pain pump that dispenses pain medicines directly into your spine may provide long-lasting relief with fewer side effects. With a pain pump, you need less medicine for greater relief of pain. A pump containing the medicine is placed under the skin of your torso. A catheter (thin tube) runs from the pump into your spine. The pump automatically dispenses medicine at scheduled times. When it is empty, your physician refills it using a needle. The therapy is completely reversible and the pump can be removed.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Locations & Physicians
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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Support Services
CRPS can be confusing and keep you from doing the things you love. Learn more about the condition and find support groups at the websites below:
A Sampling of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Support Services
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
This website shares facts about CRPS symptoms and treatment.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons hosts information and photos of CRPS and explains the surgical and nonsurgical treatment options.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association
This website features educational resources and information on support groups for CRPS (formerly called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome).