Managing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Managing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a rare form of long-term pain that usually affects a limb or part thereof, and which worsens over time. This condition may develop secondary to an injury, heart attack, stroke or after surgery but the exact reason why this happens is unclear at this stage.


Complex regional pain syndrome can be divided into two types due to different causes.

  • Type 1, which is also referred to as regional sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, develops after an injury or illness which don’t directly traumatize the nerves in the affected limb. 90 percent of patients with complex regional pain syndrome have this type.
  • Type 2, which was previously known as causalgia, develops as a result of direct damage to the nerves of the affected limb.

complex regional pain syndrome remediesSigns and Symptoms

Complex regional pain syndrome can present with the following signs and symptoms:

  • A continuously throbbing or burning pain, which is out of proportion to the original injury or trauma, and usually involves a hand, arm, foot or leg.
  • Swelling of the affected painful area.
  • Sensitivity to cold or touch.
  • Skin temperature changes – at times the skin may be cold and other times sweaty.
  • Skin texture changes, such as the affected area becoming shiny, thin or tender.
  • Skin color changes, which can range from white and mottled to blue or red.
  • Changes in nail and hair growth.
  • The ability to mobilize the affected body part is decreased.
  • Muscle weakness and spasms. Also, muscle mass loss (atrophy).
  • Joint swelling and stiffness.


The importance about the management of complex regional pain syndrome is that it needs to be initiated early, within a few months after the onset of symptoms, in order for the patient to have a good prognosis.

The treatment options include:

  • The use of oral medications such as acetaminophen, anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen), antidepressants (duloxetine) and anticonvulsants (gabapentin) to help with nerve pain
  • Corticosteroids may be administered intramuscularly or intravenously to reduce inflammation.
  • Alendronate to assist with the reduction of bone mass loss.
  • Topical medications such as capsaicin cream, lidocaine patches, and anti-inflammatory gels.
  • Local anesthetic medications can be injected around the affected nerve to block pain fibers.
  • Low dose ketamine can be administered intravenously to help with the pain.

Therapies that can be used to help reduce pain caused by complex regional pain syndrome include:

  • Applying heat to cold areas and cold to relieve any sweating and swelling.
  • Chiropractic manipulation.
  • Physical therapy can also help improve limb mobility and to prevent stiffness of joints and muscles.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy can be used to reduce chronic pain by exposing nerve endings to electrical impulses.
  • Massage therapy can be initiated as research has shown that this form of treatment has been beneficial for patients with chronic and intractable pains.

Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center

Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center is a medical facility that specializes in managing complex and chronic types of pain experienced by some patients.

The center makes use of chiropractors, physical therapists, and licensed masseuses to provide the above-mentioned therapies to affected individuals.


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