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Serious Injury Compensation Solicitors

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Compensation Claims

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a long lasting, severe pain that is usually triggered by an injury and persists for a long period of time.

The pain is usually described as burning, stabbing or stinging, but can also include tingling and numbness. The slightest touch or change in temperature around the affected area can cause extreme pain and discomfort.

The pain is usually only found in one limb, but it can spread to other areas of the body. Medical research has found that around 1 in 3,800 people develop Complex Regional Pain Syndrome every year in the UK.

It is usually triggered by an injury but is much more long-lasting and can spread to other parts of the body in some cases. It is a truly debilitating illness which can make life very difficult for suffers, especially when it comes to moving around and travelling.

Many cases of CRPS go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed so it is difficult to say how common this illness is. It can begin at any age, including in children and women account for around 3 out of 4 cases.

At CFG Law, we have seen first-hand the huge impact that CRPS can have on a persons’ life after an accident and as such, we strive to get you the medical help and assessment you need as quickly as possible. We will immediately instruct medical specialists with the expertise to diagnose your illness and help you onto the road to recovery.

We aim to put in place an early treatment plan to help you to get your life back on track as soon as we are instructed. We understand the real need to alleviate symptoms as quickly as possible and to get the help and assistance you and your family need.

Call us today on 0800 612 8196 to speak to one of our dedicated solicitors about how we could help you and your loved ones.

What causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

It is thought that CRPS develops as a result of damage to the nervous system. This is usually as a result of an injury or trauma to the area. The original injury could have been in a finger or toe, but the pain can spread through the whole limb.

The causes of CRPS are unknown, but most medical experts agree that it is the result of the body reacting abnormally to an injury. Previously, it was thought that CRPS was a psychosomatic condition (the symptoms were “all in the mind”), but research has since disproved this. People with CRPS have very definite symptoms which need to be assessed and treated.

Symptoms of CRPS

The symptoms and diagnosis of CRPS can be extremely complex.

Some patients suffer periods of pain lasting a few days or weeks. These are called flare-ups, where the discomfort and pain get worse. The pain can include burning, stabbing or stinging sensations but you may also experience some tingling and numbness.

Your skin in the affected area can become extremely sensitive meaning that even minor bumps, changes in temperature or a light touch can bring on intense pain.

You may hear these described in the following medical terms:

Hyperalgesia – this describes an extreme sensitivity to pain.

Allodynia – this is when you experience pain from something that should not be painful, such as a very light touch.

Other symptoms of CRPS

In addition to the above, people with CRPS can experience other symptoms such as:

  • Unusual sensations in the affected limb – some sufferers report that it feels like the affected limb does not belong to the rest of their body, or that it feels larger or smaller than the opposite, unaffected limb.
  • Changes to skin – sometimes skin may be hot, red and dry, or alternatively it may be cold, blue and sweaty.
  • Hair and nail changes – some patients report that their hair and nails are growing unusually slowly or quickly, or that their nails have become brittle or grooved.
  • Joint stiffness and swelling.
  • Tremors and muscle spasms.
  • Difficulty in moving the affected body part.
  • Sleeping difficulties.
  • Small patches of fragile bones (osteoporosis) in the affected limb, although there is no evidence this could lead to fractures.

Psychological strain

As well as the physical symptoms, which can be significant, it’s important not to discount or ignore the psychological strain that your pain is putting you under. The stress of dealing with daily chronic pain can lead to psychological issues for some patients, such as depression or anxiety.

Do not be ashamed or worried about discussing the psychological affects you are feeling with your doctor. Some of the treatments for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome concentrate on addressing the psychological effects of pain and therefore it is important that your doctor is aware of how you are feeling about and coping with your pain.

What treatments are available?

There are a variety of treatments considered for CRPS.

Education and self-management – As part of this treatment you will be given advice on the day-to-day management for your condition. You will be encouraged to stay active and to not avoid using the affected area; you will also be taught relaxation methods which will help you to sleep, and advice about pacing yourself – i.e. finding the balance between activity and rest. Knowing how to effectively manage your symptoms can be very useful in the treatment of CRPS.

Physical rehabilitation – Physical treatments will help to keep you active, ensuring that the affected limb does not become further affected by muscle wastage for example. A physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help you to strengthen the affected area and improve flexibility.

Desensitisation – There are techniques you can learn which should help to reduce the sensitivity of body parts affected by your condition. It usually involves touching an unaffected body part with materials of different textures such as wool, silk or glass and concentrating on how they feel to the touch. After which you will apply these same materials to the painful area of your body whilst you try to recall what it felt like previously. Although this can be an uncomfortable process to begin with, it should eventually reduce the sensitivity you experience in your affected body part.

Psychological support – Living with long-term pain can be very distressing and it is important that you do not neglect your emotional wellbeing. Therefore many patients receive some sort of psychological support, such as cognitive behaviour therapy which aims to help you understand how your pain, thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect each other, allowing you to look at these things in a different way to help you cope with your pain.

Mirror visual feedback and graded motor imagery – These are two techniques that aim to “trick” the brain, making you think that areas of your body currently affected by CRPS are no longer painful. The techniques involve exercises with a mirror positioned so that you see a reflection of the unaffected body part, where you would normally see the affected body part.

Pain relief drugs – Currently there are several medicines that doctors may use to help to treat CRPS. At first, you will try lower-strength painkillers, only using stronger painkillers if necessary. The medicines used to treat your CRPS are not licensed for this in the UK (although they are licensed for treating other conditions). This means that specific clinical trials to see if they are effective and safe in treating CRPS have not been carried out. Your doctor may choose to prescribe an unlicensed drug if they have been effective for other patients with similar symptoms and because the benefits of treatment outweigh any risks.

Who will provide CRPS treatment?

Because of the complex nature of CRPS, you will likely meet a number of different medical professionals who will work together to help you. These medical experts will sometimes work with you individually or jointly in “Pain Management Programmes” (PMPs). Some of the medical professionals assigned to help you might include:

  • A physiotherapist – to improve your coordination and increase your range of movement.
  • An occupational therapist – to help you improve your day-to-day skills.
  • A pain relief specialist – this will be either a doctor or other healthcare professional who is specifically trained in pain relief medication
  • A psychologist – to see how you are coping with living with long-term pain and help you to deal with any problems you are facing.
  • A neurologist – this is a doctor who is a specialist in treating conditions that involve the nervous system (this includes the nerves, the brain and the spinal cord).
  • An employment adviser – you will be given support and advice to help you stay in or return to work.
  • A social worker – to give you extra help and advice about additional services you can access to help your recovery.

What to do next

It is important you concentrate on your recovery when suffering from CRPS, and your main focus should be on this. At CFG Law we can start this recovery process for you by getting in touch with specialist medical experts who will help with a treatment plan.

Our specialist solicitors will take away all the stress of making a compensation claim, leaving you to concentrate on yours and your family’s needs.

Let us help you onto the road to recovery and gain access to early treatment and support services. Call us 24 hours a day on 0800 612 8196.

Our aim is to put our clients’ needs at the heart of everything we do.




Specialist solicitors experienced in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Claims.
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Accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury.

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