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You’ve heard about complex regional pain syndrome/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (CRPS/RSD), and you’ve also been experiencing some disturbing symptoms that suggest you might be suffering from the disorder. Here are some common signs of CRPS/RSD:


Unexplained Pain

You may have been injured or had surgery recently, and developed subsequent pain that exceeds the normal level for the severity of the injury sustained. The nerves of CRPS/RSD patients misfire and send constant pain signals to the brain. The level of pain is one of the most severe. According to the McGill University Pain Index, CRPS/RSD can be more painful than childbirth or even amputation of a digit. The pain is usually described as an underlying burning pain.


Changes to the Skin

CRPS/RSD patients often suffer a variety of unusual changes to their skin in terms of temperature (alternating between sweaty and cold), color (from white and mottled to red or even blue), and texture (tender, thin, or shiny in the affected area). Along with pain, these changes to the skin usually occur early in the condition, change over time, and vary from person to person.


Increased Sensitivity

There is often increased sensitivity, called allodynia, in the affected area. This sensitivity causes the CRPS/RSD patient to experience extreme pain with normal contact, and at times even at the slightest touch. Sometimes the wind or even a ceiling fan can cause extreme, shocking pain in the affected limb or area of the body.


Diagnosis Criteria

Recent advances in pain management have resulted in a consensus for the objective diagnosis of CRPS/RSD. If you are exhibiting the symptoms described above, a pain management doctor can determine in a clinical examination if you are suffering from CRPS/RSD. The current diagnostic criteria was formulated at a pain conference in Budapest and is thus called the Budapest Criteria.


You’re Not Getting Any Better

CRPS/RSD patients tend to have a quality of life that is among the worst of patients suffering from any medical condition, as well as a relatively poor prognosis for improvement. It is important to see a pain management doctor if you think you might be developing this condition, as early diagnosis and treatment can help slow down long-term effects and sometimes provide a better prognosis for a more positive outcome.


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