Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, formerly known as RSD Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is a progressive disease of the Autonomic Nervous System, and more specifically, the Sympathetic Nervous System. The pain is characterized as constant, extremely intense, and out of proportion to the original injury. The pain is typically accompanied by swelling, skin changes, extreme sensitivity, and can often be debilitating. It usually affects one or more of the four limbs but can occur in any part of the body and in over 70% of the victims it spreads to additional areas.
CRPS can follow a simple trauma (fall or sprain) a break or fracture (especially wrist and ankle) a sharp force injury (such as a knife or bullet wound), heart problems, infections, surgery, RSI/CTS, spinal injuries/disorders, or major trauma. But the precipitating cause is not always known. The original injury may happen weeks, months, or even years before the proper diagnosis is made, which contributes to this problem. CRPS strikes both men and women, but typically about 75% of patients are women. It strikes victims from 1 to 101, although about 65% of patients contract the disease in their thirties and/or forties.
There are four Main Symptoms/Criteria for a diagnosis of CRPS: constant chronic burning pain, inflammation, spasms-in blood vessels and muscles of the extremities, and insomnia/emotional disturbance (including limbic system changes). Not all four symptoms are required for a diagnosis but most patients do have at least three out of the four at any one time.
CRPS is ranked as the most painful form of chronic pain that exists today by the McGill Pain Index.
Hyperbaric oxygenation decreases inflammation and edema while increasing blood flow to the starved limbs and nerves that are damaged by the course of the disease.
Studies & Reviews
- Post-traumatic reflex sympathetic dystrophy in the ankle and foot: a study of 32 cases
- Hyperbaric Oxygen and the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome: A Case Report (PDF)
- Hyperbaric Oxygen in the Treatment of Sudeck’s Syndrome (PDF)
- Effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (PDF)