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Where can I get more information? What is complex regional pain syndrome? Complex regional pain syndrome CRPS is a chronic lasting greater than six months pain condition that most often affects one limb arm, leg, hand, or foot usually after an injury.
CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems.
The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord; the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. CRPS is divided into two types: Individuals without a confirmed nerve injury are classified as having CRPS-I previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.
As some research has identified evidence of nerve injury in CRPS-I, it is unclear if this disorders will always be divided into two types. Nonetheless, the treatment is similar. CRPS symptoms vary in severity and duration, although some cases are mild and eventually go away. In more severe cases, individuals may not recover and may have long-term disability.
Although it is more common in women, CRPS can occur in anyone at any age, with a peak at age CRPS is rare in the elderly. Very few children under age 10 and almost no children under age 5 are affected.
The key symptom is prolonged severe pain that may be constant. The pain may spread to the entire arm or leg, even though the injury might have only involved a finger or toe. In rare cases, pain can sometimes even travel to the opposite extremity.
There is often increased sensitivity in the affected area, known as allodynia, in which normal contact with the skin is experienced as very painful.
People with CRPS also experience changes in skin temperature, skin color, or swelling of the affected limb. This is due to abnormal microcirculation caused by damage to the nerves controlling blood flow and temperature.
As a result, an affected arm or leg may feel warmer or cooler compared to the opposite limb.
The skin on the affected limb may change color, becoming blotchy, blue, purple, pale, or red. Other common features of CRPS include: It is unclear why some individuals develop CRPS while others with similar trauma do not. In more than 90 percent of cases, the condition is triggered by a clear history of trauma or injury.
CRPS represents an abnormal response that magnifies the effects of the injury. Some people respond excessively to a trigger that causes no problem for other people, such as what is observed in people who have food allergies.
Peripheral nerve abnormalities found in individuals with CRPS usually involve the small unmyelinated and thinly myelinated sensory nerve fibers axons that carry pain messages and signals to blood vessels.
Myelin is a mixture of proteins and fat-like substances that surround and insulate some nerve fibers.Origins: Series Overview. Journey back to the beginning of everything: the universe, Earth and life itself.
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