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Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition which features with chronic pain. It is thought that the pain originates from dysfunction of either central or peripheral nervous system. Patients suffering from simplex regional pain syndrome typically complain about the pain and there may be swelling and stiffness of the affected hand or extremity. In majority of cases complex regional pain syndrome is associated with an injury. The injury that caused the pain and this syndrome may be rather minor such as a paper cut or even a small bruise. The injury triggers over activity of the nervous system and this leads to the occurrence of intensive burning sensations as well as aching pain.

This syndrome predominantly affected people between the age of 25 and 55. Chronic regional pain syndrome affects women more comparing to men. In the United States approximately 3 to 6 million people suffer from this syndrome.

Symptoms and Signs of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

The leading symptom is persistent and intensive pain which does not stand in correct proportion to the injury that has led to the occurrence of pain. The syndrome commonly affects one of the extremities and the pain is describes as 'burning', patients may also suffer from increased skin sensitivity, there is change in skin temperature (the affected skin is warmer or even cooler comparing to the skin of the healthy extremity) and there is evident discoloration of the skin in a form of blotchy, purple, pale or red skin changes. The skin also changes its structure and becomes shiny and thin. It may also be very sweaty. One may notice changes in nail and hair growth patterns and complain about stiffness and swelling of the affected joints. And finally, there is motor disability which does not allow the patient to move the affected body part.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Setting of the diagnosis can be rather challenging. It is set according to the signs and symptoms of the disease. There are no tests which may confirm the diagnosis. The doctor is due to perform full physical and neurological examination and sometimes send patients to do X-rays, MRI, EMG/NCV, bone scans, and thermography or pain imaging. There is also chance of consultation with different specialists.

The treatment for chronic regional pain syndrome is most effective if the diagnosis is set timely. It usually comprises occupational/ physical therapy, psychotherapy, nerve blocks, medications, and surgery. Which of the previously mentioned treatment modalities is going to be applied basically depends on the intensity of pain, severity of symptoms and duration of the problem. The goal of the treatment is to relieve painful symptoms.

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